How does an expert consider the overall accuracy and usefulness of the Septuagint?
Experts draw attention to the variant readings of the Septuagint - and that it never claims to be inspired!
You write: When the Lord and His Apostles addressed Greek-speaking Diaspora Jews, they made use of an even bigger collection of Scripture - the Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek - which many Jews (the vast majority, in fact) regarded as inspired Scripture. In fact, we find that the New Testament is filled with references to the Septuagint (and its particular translation of various Old Testament passages) as Scripture. It's a strange irony that one of the favorite passages used in anti-Catholic polemics over the years is Mark 7:6-8. In this passage Christ condemns 'teaching as doctrines human traditions.' This verse has formed the basis for countless complaints against the Church for supposedly 'adding' to Scripture man-made traditions, such as the 'merely human works' of the deuterocanononical [sic] books. But few realize that in Mark 7:6-8 the Lord was quoting the version of Isaiah that is found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.
TCE: You indulge in considerable unprovable guesswork! It is impossible for anyone to prove what 'the Lord and His Apostles' used, or what languages they spoke on every occasion in Scripture - except where the matter is clearly stated (such as Jesus' words from the cross - Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Hebrew, Aramaic (Syriac and Chaldee), Greek and Latin featured to varying degrees, which is why the words that were nailed to the cross of Jesus were written in predominant languages (John 19:20 - 'This title therefore read many of the Jews, for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city; and it was written in Hebrew, and in Latin, and in Greek').
You also forget that the issue is not just about the overall accuracy and use of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. We have already written:
'... while it is true that the Septuagint served as the Greek 'Bible' of the early church and of the apostles in their mission to the Gentiles, there is no evidence that a New Testament writer cites from any of the Apocryphal books'.
It should be no surprise that the Septuagint (LXX) was known to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and even used when known to be accurate, but you have forgotten that the important issue is whether the version known to them contained the Apocrypha. No one can prove this to be more than speculation so, again, you fail to prove your point.
Regarding the accuracy of the LXX, we find that the notes in the Preface and Introduction of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton's (1807-1862) version (published in London in 1851) reveal important facts and opinions that support many of the views we have already expressed, e.g.:
' ... It is worth noting that the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew Old Testament in certain ways: 1) the Greek text varies at many points from the corresponding Hebrew text; 2) the order of the Biblical Books is not the same - the threefold division of the Hebrew canon into the Law, Prophets, and Writings is not followed in the LXX; and 3) several books not found in the Hebrew are included in the LXX - these books are known as the Apocrypha in the English Bible.
While the majority of the Old Testament quotations rendered by the New Testament authors are borrowed directly from the Septuagint, a number of times they provide their own translation which follows the Hebrew text against the Septuagint. In general, the vocabulary and style of the Septuagint is reflected in the theological terms and phraseology chosen by the New Testament writers, and therefore, takes on particular significance for a better overall understanding of the Scriptures. It is not surprising - due to its early widespread use and enduring influence in the Church - that the order of the Biblical Books in the Septuagint, rather than that of the Hebrew O.T., became the accepted order.
Although rejected by Protestants as non-canonical, the Apocryphal writings have enduring value as a literary and historical record of the inter-testamental period. They often provide important background and illustrative material for a better understanding of the New Testament 'world' and thus the New Testament itself.
The earliest version of the Old Testament Scriptures which is extant, or of which we possess any certain knowledge, is the translation executed at Alexandria in the third century before the Christian era : this version has been so habitually known by the name of the SEPTUAGINT, that the attempt of some learned men in modern times to introduce the designation of the Alexandrian version (as more correct) has been far from successful.
The history of the origin of this translation was embellished with various fables at so early a period, that it has been a work of patient critical research in later times to bring into plain light the facts which may be regarded as well authenticated.
We need not wonder that but little is known with accuracy on this subject ; for, with regard to the ancient versions of the Scriptures in general, we possess no information whatever as to the time or place of their execution, or by whom they were made : we simply find such versions in use at particular times, and thus we gather the fact that they must have been previously executed. If, then, our knowledge of the origin of the Septuagint be meagre, it is at least more extensive than that which we possess of other translations.
After the conquests of Alexander had brought Egypt under Macedonian rule, the newly-founded city of Alexandria became especially a place where the Greek language, although by no means in its purest form, was the medium of written and spoken communication amongst the varied population there brought together. This Alexandrian dialect is the idiom in which the Septuagint version was made.
Amongst other inhabitants of Alexandria the number of Jews was considerable : many appear to have settled there even from the first founding of the city, and it became the residence of many more during the reign of the first Ptolemy. Hence the existence of the sacred books of the Jews would easily become known to the Greek population. ...
... In examining the version itself, it bears manifest proof that it was not executed by Jews of Palestine, but by those of Egypt : - there are words and expressions which plainly denote its Alexandrian origin ... It may also be doubted whether in the year 285 B.C. there were Jews in Palestine who had sufficient intercourse with the Greeks to have executed a translation into that language ; for it must be borne in mind how recently they had become the subjects of Greek monarchs, and how differently they were situated from the Alexandrians as to the influx of Greek settlers. ...
There would be, however, many difficulties in the way of this hypothesis. We would hardly suppose that in a space of thirty-five years the Alexandrian Jews had found such a translation needful or desirable: we must also bear in mind that we find at this period no trace of any versions having been made by Jews into the languages of other countries in which they had continued for periods much longer than that of their settlement at Alexandria.
... The most reasonable conclusion is, that the version was executed for the Egyptian king ; and that the Hellenistic Jews afterwards used it as they became less and less familiar with the language of the original.
... we may however be certain that various interpreters were occupied in translating various parts, and in all probability the interval between the commencement and the conclusion of the work was not great.
The variety of the translators is proved by the unequal character of the version : some books show that the translators were by no means competent to the task, while others, on the contrary, exhibit on the whole a careful translation. The Pentateuch is considered to be the part the best executed, while the book of Isaiah appears to be the very worst.
In estimating the general character of the version, it must be remembered that the translators were Jews, full of traditional thoughts of their own as to the meaning of Scripture ; and thus nothing short of a miracle could have prevented them from infusing into their version the thoughts which were current in their own minds. They could only translate passages as they themselves understood them. This is evidently the case when their work is examined.
It would be, however, too much to say that they translated with dishonest intention; for it cannot be doubted that they wished to express their Scriptures truly in Greek, and that their deviations from accuracy may be simply attributed to the incompetency of some of the interpreters, and the tone of mental and spiritual feeling which was common to them all.
One difficulty which they had to overcome was that of introducing theological ideas, which till then had only their proper terms in Hebrew, into a language of Gentiles, which till then had terms for no religious notions except those of heathens. Hence the necessity of using many words and phrases in new and appropriated senses.
These remarks are not intended as depreciatory of the Septuagint version: their object is rather to show what difficulties the translators had to encounter, and why in some respects they failed ; as well as to meet the thought which has occupied the minds of some, who would extol this version as though it possessed something resembling co-ordinate authority with the Hebrew text itself.
One of the earliest of those writers who mention the Greek translation of the Scriptures, speaks also of the version as not fully adequate. The Prologue of Jesus the son of Sirach (written as many suppose B.C. 130) to his Greek version of his grandfather's work, states:
'For the same things expressed in Hebrew have not an equal force when translated into another language. Not only so, but even the Law and the prophecies and the rest of the books differ not a little as to the things said in them.'
The writer of this Prologue had come into Egypt from the Holy Land : he had undertaken the translation of his grandfather's work into Greek, but in explanation of the difficulty which he had to encounter in this work, he refers to the defects found even in the version of the Law, the prophets, and the other books, of which he had previously spoken. Doubtless coming into Egypt he was more conscious of the defects of the Septuagint version than could have been the case with Egyptian Jews, who had used the translation commonly and habitually for a century and a quarter.
At Alexandria the Hellenistic Jews used the version, and gradually attached to it the greatest possible authority: from Alexandria it spread amongst the Jews of the dispersion, so that at the time of our Lord's birth it was the common form in which the Old Testament Scriptures had become diffused.
In examining the Pentateuch of the Septuagint in connection with the Hebrew text, and with the copies preserved by the Samaritans in their crooked letters, it is remarkable that in very many passages the readings of the Septuagint accord with the Samaritan copies where they differ from the Jewish. We cannot here notice the various theories which have been advanced to account for this accordance of the Septuagint with the Samaritan copies of the Hebrew; indeed it is not very satisfactory to enter into the details of the subject, because no theory hitherto brought forward explains all the facts, or meets all the difficulties. To one point, however, we will advert, because it has not been sufficiently taken into account, in the places in which the Samaritan and Jewish copies of the Hebrew text differ, in important and material points, the Septuagint accords much more with the Jewish than with the Samaritan copies, and in a good many points it introduces variations unknown to either.
The Septuagint version having been current for about three centuries before the time when the books of the New Testament were written, it is not surprising that the Apostles should have used it more often than not in making citations from the Old Testament. They used it as an honestly-made version in pretty general use at the time when they wrote. They did not on every occasion give an authoritative translation of each passage de novo, but they used what was already familiar to the ears of converted Hellenists, when it was sufficiently accurate to suit the matter in hand. In fact, they used it as did their contemporary Jewish writers, Philo and Josephus, but not, however, with the blind implicitness of the former.
In consequence of the fact that the New Testament writers used on many occasions the Septuagint version, some have deduced a new argument for its authority, - a theory which we might have thought to be sufficiently disproved by the defects of the version, which evince that it is merely a human work. But the fact that the New Testament writers used this version on many occasions supplies a new proof in opposition to the idea of its authority, for in not a few places they do not follow it, but they supply a version of their own which rightly represents the Hebrew text, although contradicting the Septuagint.
The use, however, which the writers of the New Testament have made of the Septuagint version must always invest it with a peculiar interest ; we thus see what honour God may be pleased to put on an honestly-made version, since we find that inspired writers often used such a version, when it was sufficiently near the original to suit the purpose for which it was cited, instead of rendering the Hebrew text de novo on every occasion.
Another important point on which the Septuagint stands in close connection with the New Testament is the general phraseology of the version, - a phraseology in which the traces of Hebrew elements are most marked, but with regard to which we should mistake greatly if we supposed that it originated with the New Testament writers. Thus we may see that the study of the Septuagint is almost needful to any biblical scholar who wishes to estimate adequately the phraseology and usus loquendi of the New Testament.
Besides the direct citations in the New Testament in which the Septuagint is manifestly used, there are not a few passages in which it is clear that the train of expression has been formed on words and phrases of the Septuagint : thus an intimate acquaintance with this version becomes in a manner necessary on the part of an expositor who wishes to enter accurately into the scope of many parts of the New Testament.
Thus, whatever may be our estimate of the defects found in the Septuagint - its inadequate renderings, its departures from the sense of the Hebrew, its doctrinal deficiencies owing to the limited apprehensions of the translators - there is no reason whatever for our neglecting the version, or not being fully alive to its real value and importance.
After the diffusion of Christianity, copies of the Septuagint became widely dispersed amongst the new communities that were formed ; so that before many years had elapsed this version must have been as much in the hands of Gentiles as of Jews.
The veneration with which the Jews had treated this version (as is shown in the case of Philo and Josephus), gave place to a very contrary feeling when they found how it could be used against them in argument : hence they decried the version, and sought to deprive it of all authority. As the Gentile Christians were generally unacquainted with Hebrew, they were unable to meet the Jews on the ground which they now took ; and as the Gentile Christians at this time believed the most extraordinary legends of the origin of the version, so that they fully embraced the opinions of its authority and inspiration, they necessarily regarded the denial on the part of the Jews of its accuracy, as little less than blasphemy, and as a proof of their blindness.
In the course of the second century, three other complete versions of the Old Testament into Greek were executed : these are of importance in this place, because of the manner in which they were afterwards connected with the Septuagint.
The first of the Greek versions of the Old Testament executed in the second century was that of AQUILA. He is described as a Jew or Jewish proselyte of Pontus, and the date commonly attributed to his version is about the year A.D. 126. His translation is said to have been executed for the express purpose of opposing the authority of the Septuagint : his version was in consequence upheld by the Jews. His labour was evidently directed in opposing the passages which the Christians were accustomed to cite from the Septuagint as applicable to the Lord Jesus. The general characteristic of this version is bold literality of rendering : such an endeavour is made to render each Hebrew word and particle into Greek, that all grammar is often set at defiance, and not unfrequently the sense is altogether sacrificed. From the scrupulosity of Aquila in rendering each Hebrew word, his work, if we possessed it complete (and not merely in scattered fragments), would be of great value in textual criticism.
Another Greek translator at a subsequent period in the second century was SYMMACHUS. He is described as an Ebionite, a kind of semi-Christian. His version seems to have been executed in good and pure Greek: perhaps he was the more particular in his attention to this in consequence of the mere barbarism of Aquila.
A third translator in the same century was THEODOTION, an Ebionite like Symmachus, to whom he was probably anterior. His version is in many parts based on the Septuagint. He is less servile in his adherence to the words of the Hebrew than Aquila, although he is void of the freedom of Symmachus. His knowledge of Hebrew was certainly but limited, and without the Septuagint it is hardly probable that he could have undertaken this version.
Thus, before the end of the second century there were, besides the Septuagint, three versions of the Old Testament in Greek, known to both Jews and Christians. All this could not fail in making the Old Testament Scriptures better known and more widely read.
Although many Christians believed in the inspiration and authority of the Septuagint, yet this could not have been universally the case; otherwise the disuse of the real Septuagint version of the book of Daniel, and the adoption of that of Theodotion in its stead, could never have taken place. This must have arisen from an apprehension of the poverty and inaccuracy of the Septuagint in this book, so that another version similar in its general style was gladly adopted.
We have now to speak of the labours of ORIGEN in connection with the text of the Septuagint. This learned and enterprising scholar, having acquired a knowledge of Hebrew, found that in many respects the copies of the Septuagint differed from the Hebrew text. It seems to be uncertain whether he regarded such differences as having arisen from mistakes on the part of copyists, or from errors of the original translators themselves.
The object which he proposed to himself was not to restore the Septuagint to its original condition, nor yet to correct mere errors of translation simply as such, but to cause that the Church should possess a text of the Septuagint in which all additions to the Hebrew should be marked with an obelus, and in which all that the Septuagint omitted should be added from one of the other versions marked with an asterisk. He also indicated readings in the Septuagint which were so incorrect that the passage ought to be changed for the corresponding one in another version.
With the object of thus amending the Septuagint, he formed his great works, the Hexapla and Tetrapla; these were (as the names imply) works in which the page was divided respectively into six columns and into four columns.
The Hexapla contained, 1st, the Hebrew text ; 2nd, the Hebrew text expressed in Greek characters ; 3rd, the version of Aquila ; 4th, that of Symmachus; 5th, the Septuagint ; 6th, Theodotion. The Tetrapla contained merely the four last columns.
Besides these four versions of the entire Old Testament, Origen employed three anonymous Greek versions of particular books ; these are commonly called the fifth, sixth, and seventh versions. Hence in the parts in which two of these versions are added, the work was designated Octapla, and where all the three appeared, it was called Enneapla.
References were then made from the column of the Septuagint to the other versions, so as to complete and correct it : for this purpose Theodotion was principally used. This recension by Origen has generally been called the Hexaplar text. The Hexapla itself is said never to have been copied: what remains of the versions which it contained (mere fragments) were edited by Montfaucon in 1714, and in an abridged edition by Bahrdt in 1769-70.
The Hexaplar text of the Septuagint was copied about half a century after Origen's death by Pamphius and Eusebius ; it thus obtained a circulation ; but the errors of copyists soon confounded the marks of addition and omission which Origen placed, and hence the text of the Septuagint became almost hopelessly mixed up with that of other versions.
The Hexaplar text is best known from a Syriac version which was made from it; of this many books have been published from a Manuscript at Milan; other books are now in the British Museum amongst the rest of the Syriac treasures obtained from the Nitrian monasteries. This Syro-Hexaplar translation preserves the marks of the Greek text, and the references to the other translations. It may yet be made of great use in separating the readings which were introduced by Origen from those of an older date.
There were two other early attempts to revise the Septuagint besides that of Origen. In the beginning of the fourth century, Lucian, a presbyter of Antioch, and Hesychius, an Egyptian bishop, undertook similar labours of the same kind. These two recensions (which they were in the proper sense of the term) were much used in the Eastern Churches.
From the fourth century and onward, we know of no definite attempt to revise the text of the Septuagint, or to correct the discrepancies of various copies. It is probable, however, that just as the text of the Greek New Testament became in a great measure fixed into the same form as we find it in the modern copies, something of the same kind must have been the case with the Septuagint. As to the Greek New Testament, this seems to have occurred about the eleventh century, when the mass of copies were written within the limits of the patriarchate of Constantinople. It is probable that certain copies approved at the metropolis, both politically and religiously, of those who used the Greek tongue, were tacitly taken as a kind of standard.
We find amongst the members of the Eastern Churches who use the Greek language, that the Septuagint has been and is still so thoroughly received as authentic Scripture, that any effort to introduce amongst them versions which accurately represent the Hebrew (as has been attempted in modern times) has been wholly fruitless.
Thus the Septuagint demands our attention, were it only from the fact that the whole circle of religious ideas and thoughts amongst Christians in the East has always been moulded according to this version. Without an acquaintance with the Septuagint, numerous allusions in the writings of the Fathers become wholly unintelligible, and even important doctrinal discussions and difficulties (such even as some connected with the Arian controversy) become wholly unintelligible.
As the Septuagint was held in such honour in the East, it is no cause for surprise that this version was the basis of the other translations which were made in early times into vernacular tongues. There was, however, also another reason ; - the general ignorance of the original Hebrew amongst the early Christians prevented their forming their translations from the fountain itself. The especial exception to this remark is the Syriac version of the Old Testament formed at once from the Hebrew.'
More truth regarding the Vulgate and the King James Version of the Bible
TCE: Despite all the 'good' uses suggested by Brenton, if the Jews using the Septuagint (LXX) really held the work as being comparable to the Masoretic text why would they allow inaccuracies and variations in the text - and a different order of sacred books to be used? We should clearly be concerned about the use of a text known to be tainted with errors from Samaritan versions and many other inaccuracies (ref. books of Daniel and Isaiah!), as well as the question of when the Apocrypha gained deuterocanonical approval in ignorant circles and, despite the clear advice of Jerome, came to be allied to the genuine Word of God. Brenton also points out that 'While the majority of the Old Testament quotations rendered by the New Testament authors are borrowed directly from the Septuagint, a number of times they provide their own translation which follows the Hebrew text against the Septuagint.' Why does it appear that Paul's quotations of Old Testament verses fall - 80-90% of the time - between the Septuagint and Hebrew translations, as if he was inspired to choose the best version when neither were perfect? While it is possible to convey the perfect truth with a variety of slightly different words, it would seem perfectly logical to suggest that, as inspired writers led 'into all truth' by the Holy Spirit (John 16:7ff.), they would know when the Septuagint (LXX) contained an inaccurate rendering of the Old Testament!
Since you emphasised that 'in Mark 7:6-8 the Lord was quoting the version of Isaiah that is found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament' it is worth comparing an extremely accurate modern version with Benton's (often known as 'Bagster's' Septuagint) LXX version of Isaiah 29:13, which reads:
'And the Lord has said, This people draw nigh to me with their mouth, and they honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men. Therefore behold I will proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them: and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent.'
The NASB reads (Isaiah 29:13-14; NASB):
'13 Then the Lord said, 'Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.''
and the King James Version of the Bible (Isaiah 29:13-14):
'Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid'.
As is easily shown, regarding the verses quoted in Mark, the Septuagint (LXX) is as accurate in this case as the sources used by the King James translators before 1611 and the translators of the New American Standard Bible before 1977! If the Septuagint (LXX) was uniformly accurate it would perhaps have been used throughout the New Testament but, since it has been proven to contain poor translations and unwarranted additions, that was clearly not going to be allowed by God.
The passage itself supports the beliefs of orthodox Christians, for the Lord accused the Pharisees of "teaching as doctrine the precepts of men" (Mark 7:7). While the scribes and Pharisees appeared devout in their zeal for the proper observance of Tradition the Lord Jesus knew it was a pious deception and their hearts were far from God and their worship was vain and worthless in the sight of God. Scripture declared absolutely nothing about washing one's hands before eating but, nonetheless, the Pharisees enforced ceremonial hand-washing as if God Himself had ordained it. In this way they had elevated the teachings of men to the same level of authority as God's inspired Scriptures - just as Papal Rome has repeatedly done with its false traditions!
The Lord continued His rebuke, labelling the 'oral Torah' as "the tradition of men" (Mark 7:8) and He accused them of putting men's words before God's Word:
"Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. ... You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition" (Mark 7:8,9).
In other words, when the Pharisees disobeyed Scripture, they did it 'very well' (v9 - Greek. καλως kalos - well (usually morally), (in a) good (place), honestly, (full) well.). Jesus gave them credit for how cleverly they could slip God's commandments to the side to clear the way for strict obedience to their own Traditions. By their Traditions, Jesus said, they were "invalidating the word of God" (Mark 7:13), making the Scriptures null and void - just as Papal Rome has done. Jesus clearly rejected the man-made authority structure of the first-century Jews and refused to submit to Tradition, the teaching authority of the Scribes and Pharisees, or the ruling authority of the Sanhedrin they represented.
What Jesus rejected, Papal Rome has restored by elevating Tradition above the authority of God's inspired Scriptures. Popes and bishops have laid claim to universal jurisdiction and sole teaching authority and, even as the Pharisees did, honour God with their lips only, claiming:
... this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. (Council of Trent, Session 14, "Teaching Concerning the Most Holy Sacraments of Penance and Last Anointing," Chapter 3; Second Vatican Council - Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 10)
The truth is that the 'Magisterium' plays no more than lip service to the Word of God.
Since Jerome's Vulgate was mainly a translation from the faulty Septuagint, Rome's English Bible also contains errors. Two samples out of many will suffice: In Genesis 3:15, where the promise is that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, Papal Rome has rendered: 'she shall bruise the serpent's head' -- making a woman and not the Saviour the bruiser of the serpent's bead. Again, where good 'Protestant' Bibles read 'repent,' the Papal version reads 'do penance' - a very different meaning!
Experts in translation have drawn attention to the variant readings of the Septuagint and the fact that the translation never claims to be inspired. We should understand that Ptolemy, king of Egypt, for whose great library this version was made, was seeking literature, not religion. This explains many problems, such as the fact that the version is a paraphrase, not a translation, and this is why it sometimes incorporates traditions and even whole books belonging to later Jewish literature, but not found in the Hebrew nor reckoned by the Jews as canonical. This also explains why we find, incorporated in the third chapter of Daniel, a section longer than the rest of the chapter. Sandwiched between verses 23 and 24 are sixty-seven additional verses, consisting of three parts which stand out as blatant embellishments:
Part I: After stating that the three heroes of the account had fallen down bound when thrown into the furnace, it says that they arose and walked in the flame. Then Azarias (i.e., Abed-nego) offered a prayer much like Daniel's prayer in Chapter 8. Indeed, it is evidently modelled on that prayer but contains one untrue statement, which was true, however, in the time of the Apocryphal book from which it is apparently quoted.
Part II: It contains a brief statement to the effect that Nebuchadnezzar's servants kept on adding fuel to feed the flames of the furnace, but God's angel entered the furnace with the martyrs and blew all the flames out of the furnace and made all its interior as cool as if a gentle breeze circulated or a dew were falling.
Part III: The consciousness of deliverance leads all three of the heroes to burst out in a long song of praise, which is little more than quotations from some of the Psalms. This also bears the marks of a later age and, unlike the reticence of the Holy Scriptures, it seeks to explain the process of the miracle whereas inspired oracles record miracles in the simplest and briefest language, never stopping to attempt an explanation, or to offer an apology.
Daniel 5 is another case in point. There are variant readings in the texts and versions: usually the accepted Hebrew text, the Greek version of Theodotion and the old Peshito Syriac version agree on the text while the chief variations are found in the Septuagint. It has therefore been found to be a safe rule to follow the three against the one which is renowned for its extensive variant readings - and the Septuagint Daniel is by far the most untrustworthy of the Old Testament books in that version.
The Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit led Apostles appealed to the Old Testament Scripture as the Word of God and therefore consecrated its authority and permanent and abiding value (Mark 7:13; Romans 3:2) in their ministries. While we cannot know for certain exactly which books the Alexandrian Jews accepted, since we do not possess any Jewish manuscripts of the Septuagint (LXX), we have the clear record of repeated appeals to the Old Testament found in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 7:12-14; Romans 8:26-40) in witnessing to the Jews or Gentiles. As we have already emphasised, in the New Testament itself there are no explicit, formal quotations from the deuterocanonical books and we find no more than hopeful claims, e.g. that the writer of Hebrews 1:3 adapted the main phrase from Wisdom 7:26 from those who seek to support their use. The absence of an explicit quotation also applies to the case of the protocanonical books with, again, many claims to passages said to reveal the influence of the disputed works, e.g. Matthew 6:14 (Ecclus 28:2); Matthew 27:39 ff. (Wis 2:13 ff.); Romans 1:20 ff. (Wis 13-14); Hebrew 11:35 (2 Mac 6:18-7:42); Jas 1:19 (Ecclus 5:13); 1 Peter 1:6 f. (Wis 3:3 ff.), as well as other instances cited even more hopefully. The best that can be said for the Septuagint (LXX) is that, when the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament, it usually agrees with the LXX - careful research would seem to indicate that, out of about 300 quotations, less than 50 disagree with it with any great significance.
But two further points ensue from this fact:
1. 50 out of 300 is a considerable percentage and it augurs badly when compared with the overall accuracy of the New Testament which, as we showed on this page - in a quote from experts:
'Only about one-eighth of all the variants [in textual errors] had any weight, as most of them are merely mechanical matters such as spelling or style. Of the whole then, only about one-sixtieth rise above 'trivialities', or can in any sense be called 'substantial variations.' Mathematically this would compute to a text that is 98.33 percent pure.' (Geisler, Norman L. and Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible, Chicago: Moody Press, 1968)
Thus, taking the WORST cases, which we have no need to do, we could still be certain of the accuracy of our Bible. ...' .
There is no other ancient book or manuscript in existence that can come near this for accuracy and the Old Testament has a comparable level of accuracy, as the relatively recent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls proved.
But, by trying to lever the Septuagint (LXX) and concomitant pseudoepigraphical books into a prime position as a Biblical authority, Papal Rome clearly weakens the obviously superior claims of Christianity over the written works of all other religions.
That Papal Rome has tried to weaken Christianity through her many other ploys of placing 'tradition' on equal footing with the Word of God that they feign to accept as authoritative, as well as accepting the errors, icons, and symbols, of many other pagan religions (both in the past and as shown by recent popes), means that we should not be surprised by these claims. But that never requires us to quietly accept them.
2. It does not seem to cross the mind of the apologists of Papal Rome that, for a variation of about one-sixth (50 out of 300) to appear in the text of the New Testament requires examination of just how and when this might have occurred? Unless it can be categorically proven that the Septuagint (LXX) contains the correct version rather than the variable verses obtained from the Masoretic Text we are convinced that we have His very Word today in the Hebrew Masoretic and the Greek Received Text and in the Authorized English Version as an accurate translation thereof.
It is clear that the death of the apostles was followed by a determined Satanic attack upon the Word of God. We have already seen how heretics attempted to tamper with the New Testament and this began within a hundred years of the composition of the New Testament. It is clear that the 'African Fathers' and a large part of the Western church managed to employ methods that led to the production of far inferior manuscripts to those which were in the possession of Stunica, Erasmus, or Stephen, thirteen centuries later when they were working with the Textus Receptus (F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, II, 4th edition, 1894, pp. 264, 265).
Extensive research by scholars reveals how manuscripts, such as the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, are favoured by apostate, so-called 'modern textual critics', but contain corruptions which were introduced by the many heretics of those early centuries (John Burgon and Edward Miller, The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, 1896). They concluded that 'Origen in Palestine, Lucian at Antioch, Heschius in Egypt, revised the text of the New Testament ' because of their heretical views and also noted 'the baneful influence of such spirits as Theophilus (sixth Bishop of Antioch, A.D. 168), Tatian, Ammonius, &c., of whom there must have been a vast number in the primitive age, some of whose productions, we know for certain, were freely multiplied in every quarter of ancient Christendom ... add, the fabricated gospels which anciently abounded ... and we have sufficiently explained how it comes to pass that not a few of the codices of ancient Christendom must have exhibited a text which was even scandalously corrupt (John Burgon, The Revision Revised, p29-30).
Egypt has a long history as a breeding ground for occult religions and these influences have long affected even the strands of Christianity that struggled to survive in the region. Heretics, Gnostics and every manner of sect could be found in Alexandria, for the most celebrated philosophers and professors from the East, as well as from Greece and Rome, rushed there and gathered followers. An added attraction was the famous museum, library of 700,000 volumes, and other splendid works founded by king Ptolemy Soter. The Jews established themselves in great numbers in this city very soon after it was founded. Josephus says that Alexander himself assigned to them a particular quarter of the city, and allowed them equal rights and privileges with the Greeks. Philo lived there in the time of Christ and stated that, of five parts of the city, the Jews inhabited two and about a million Jews dwelt in Alexandria and the other Egyptian cities, although some believe he exaggerated.
The heretical school at Alexandria was established in about 180 A.D. by Pantaenus who mixed pagan philosophy with Christianity in his Stoic sect. Clement of Alexandria (full name Titus Flavius Clement - 115-215 A.D.), a student of Pantaenus, taught at Alexandria from about 190-202 A.D. and intermingled Christianity with pagan philosophy; thus he was one of the 'fathers' of purgatory and baptismal regeneration, taught that most men will be saved and accepted the Apocrypha as divinely inspired. He also believed that men could become God and saw Greek philosophy as a preliminary discipline, a schoolmaster to point the pagan world towards Christ! (Sightler, Tabernacle Essays on Bible Translation, 1992, p7).
The other major heretic associated with Alexandria was Origen (185-254 A.D.), who succeeded Clement. Historian Philip Schaff admitted that Origen's 'predilection for Plato (the pagan philosopher) led him into many grand and fascinating errors.' The Lutheran historian Johann Mosheim describes him as 'a compound of contraries, wise and unwise, acute and stupid, judicious and injudicious; the enemy of superstition, and its patron; a strenuous defender of Christianity, and its corrupter; energetic and irresolute; one to whom the Bible owes much, and from whom it has suffered much.' (An Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, from the Birth of Christ to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century, 1840).
Origen held to many doctrinal errors, such as denial of the infallible inspiration of Scripture. He rejected the literal history of the early chapters in Genesis and of Satan taking the Lord Jesus up to a high mountain and offering him the kingdoms of the world (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. III, p. 614). Origen's heresies are legendary and he:
accepted infant baptism and taught baptismal regeneration and salvation by works;
believed the Holy Spirit was possibly a created being of some sort;
believed in a form of purgatory and universalism;
denied the literal fire of hell;
believed that even Satan would be saved eventually;
believed that men's souls are pre-existent and that stars and planets possibly have souls;
believed that Jesus was a created being and not eternal;
denied the bodily resurrection, claiming that the resurrection body is spherical, non-material, and does not have members.
Origen allegorized the Bible and was a 'father' of the heresy that 'The Scriptures have little use to those who understand them literally' as well as being 'attributed the earliest substantial work in the field of textual criticism'. (Kenneth I. Brown, The Church Fathers and the Text of the New Testament, p21). His faulty reasoning is revealed by this example from The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Scriptures by John Burgon and Edward Miller (1896):
'In this Commentary Origen, the leading Christian critic of antiquity, gives us an insight into the arbitrary and highly subjective manner in which New Testament textual criticism was carried on at Alexandria about 230 AD. In his comment on Matthew 19:17-21 (Jesus' reply to the rich young man) Origen reasons that Jesus could not have concluded his list of God's commandments with the comprehensive requirement, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. For the reply of the young man was, All these things have I kept from my youth up, and Jesus evidently accepted this statement as true. But if the young man had loved his neighbor as himself, he would have been perfect, for Paul says that the whole law is summed up in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But Jesus answered, If thou wilt be perfect etc., implying, that the young man was not yet perfect. Therefore, Origen argued, the commandment, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, could not have been spoken by Jesus on this occasion and was not part of the original text of Matthew. The clause had been added, Origen concluded, by some tasteless scribe.'
Clearly, Origen made crucial textual decisions based on his own faulty reasoning for, contrary to his claim, it is perfectly obvious that the Lord Jesus did not accept the rich young ruler's profession that he had kept the law from his youth up, for the simple reason that Scripture makes it clear that no man has ever been able to achieve such a thing (Romans 3:19-23; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10-11). In His reply to the rich young ruler, Christ was exposing the sinful condition of the young man's heart and his deceit in thinking that he was righteous. Christ was using the law for its divinely-intended purpose, which is to reveal man's sin and to lead him to repentance and faith in the Gospel (Galatians 3:23).
But Origen went further than just arrogantly forcing his interpretations on Scripture - he also shamelessly tampered with the text of Scripture. Consider the testimony of Presbyterian scholar Robert Dabney:
Origen exercised a powerful influence over the transmission of the Greek text in the period before some of the most ancient copies now in existence were written. ... he was the great corrupter, and the source, or at least the channel, of nearly all the speculative errors which plagued the church in after ages. Nolan asserts that the most characteristic discrepancies between the common Greek text and the texts current in Palestine and Egypt in Origen's day are distinctly traceable to a Marcionite or Valentinian source, and that Origen's was the mediating hand for introducing these corruptions into the latter texts. It is highly significant that important texts bearing on the Trinitarian doctrine, which appear in the Greek and Latin are lacking in the old manuscripts of the Palestinian and Egyptian. The disputed texts were designed to condemn and refute the errors of the Ebionites and Gnostics, Corinthians and Nicolaitanes. It is not surprising that the influence of Origen should result in the suppression of some of these authentic testimonies in the Greek copies, while the old Latin which circulated in areas not much affected by Origen's influence, should preserve such a reading as that found in 1 John 5:7 (Robert Dabney, The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek, Southern Presbyterian Review, April 1871).
Of Origen's textual efforts, Frederick Nolan makes the following important observation:
'He contributed to weaken the authority of the received text of the New [Testament]. In the course of his Commentaries, he cited the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, on the former part of the Canon, he appealed to the authority of Valentinus and Heracleon on the latter. While he thus raised the credit of those revisals, which had been made by the hereticks, he detracted from the authority of that text which had been received by the Orthodox. Some difficulties which he found himself unable to solve in the Evangelists, he undertook to remove, by expressing his doubts of the integrity of the text. In some instances he ventured to impeach the reading of the New Testament on the testimony of the Old, and to convict the copies of one Gospel on the evidence of another: thus giving loose to his fancy, and indulging in many wild conjectures, he considerably impaired the credit of the vulgar or common edition, as well in the New as in the Old Testament. (emphasis added) (Nolan, Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, 1815, p432-34).
Thus it should come as no surprise to find that modern liberals and textual critics repeatedly appeal to Origen's faulty textual work to try and support the Alexandrian text they employ in their preferred 'translations'. Such was the malevolent influence of Origen that the Codex Sinaiticus was corrected in the Old Testament according to his flawed work (Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p23). Eusebius (270-340 A.D.) was another influential name in Alexandria and he collected the writings of Origen and promoted his false teachings by collecting about eight hundred of Origen's letters and using Origen's six-column Bible, the Hexapla, in his Biblical labours. Assisted by Pamphilus, he restored and preserved Origen's library (Jack Moorman, Forever Settled, p130). Eusebius also 'founded at Caesarea a library of biblical and patristic writings on papyrus rolls, the nucleus of which consisted of Origen's voluminous writings, especially his editions and interpretations of biblical books'. (Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p23).
Frederick Nolan and other authorities have charged Eusebius with making many changes in the text of Scripture, including removing Mark 16:9-20 and John 8:1-11:
'As it is thus apparent that Eusebius wanted [lacked] not the power, so it may be shewn that he wanted [lacked] not the will, to make those alterations in the sacred text, with which I have ventured to accuse him. ... The works of those early writers lie under the positive imputation of being corrupted. The copies of Clement and Origen were corrupted in their life time; the manuscripts from which Tertullian's works have been printed are notoriously faulty; and the copies of Cyprian demonstrate their own corruption, by their disagreement among themselves, and their agreement with different texts and revisals of Scripture. It is likewise indisputable, that these fathers not only followed each other, adopting the arguments and quotations of one another; but that they quoted from the heterodox as well as the orthodox. They were thus likely to transmit from one to another erroneous quotations, originally adopted from sources not more pure than heretical revisals of Scripture. ... New revisals of Scripture were thus formed, which were interpolated with the peculiar readings of scholiasts and fathers. Nor did this systematic corruption terminate here; but when new texts were thus formed, they became the standard by which the later copies of the early writers were in succession corrected (Nolan, An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, 1815, pp.35, 326-332).
Dorotheus was a pastor at Antioch at the end of the third century and Eusebius conceded that he was 'much devoted to the study of the Hebrew language, so that he read the Hebrew Scriptures with great facility' and could be heard in the church 'expounding the Scriptures with great judgment.' While Alexandria was promoting Gnosticism and allegoricalism, Antioch was promoting faithfulness to the apostolic teaching and the literal method of Bible interpretation, as McClintock & Strong testify: 'As distinguished from the school of Alexandria, its tendency was logical rather than intuitional or mystical.'
Wilbur Pickering observes that this fact has serious implications in regard to the issue of texts and translations, because 'a literalist is obliged to be concerned about the precise wording of the text since his interpretation or exegesis hinges upon it.' He notes that the 1,000 extant manuscripts of the Syriac Peshitta 'are unparalleled for their consistency' and that 'it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Antiochian antipathy toward the Alexandrian allegorical interpretation of Scripture would rather indispose them to view with favor any competing forms of the text coming out of Egypt'. (Identity of the New Testament Text, chapter 5).
Antioch is renowned for resisting Roman Catholic doctrinal heresies, such as Mary being 'the mother of God', purgatory, infant baptism and reverence for relics, but the Antioch church gradually apostatised, becoming affected by the Arian heresy at one point, and eventually submitting to Rome.
The text used by the church at Antioch was the Textus Receptus (also called the Received Text and the Traditional Text) which the manuscript evidence reveals to be the real preserved text of Holy Scripture from which the King James Version of the Bible, the Luther Bible, and other early Protestant translations were obtained. The Textus Receptus is essentially the text of the Greek New Testament published by Elzevir in 1633 and based on the 1535 edition of Erasmus's Greek New Testament (Erasmus first printed his exceedingly influential work in 1514, basing his translation on five Greek manuscripts he located in Basle, the majority of which went back to the 12th century), the Complutensian Polyglot published by Cardinal Ximines in 1520, and a handful of other manuscripts.
Later 'Protestant' translations (many of which were joint translations between liberal 'Protestants' and Papal Roman Catholic scholars!) utilised the erroneous Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts and consequently produced equally erroneous Bible versions. Fenton John Anthony Hort (of Westcott-Hort fame) called the Received Text 'the Antiochan text' and 'the Syrian text' and wrote:
'The fundamental text of the late extant Greek MANUSCRIPTS. generally is, beyond all question, identical with the dominant Antiochian or Graeco-Syrian text of the second half of the IVth century' (Westcott and Hort, The Greek New Testament, Introduction, p. 92). John Burgon, who carefully researched the history of the early Biblical text as well as specifically investigating the writings of 'Church Fathers' (evidenced by his index of quotations from early church leaders which dealt with more than 86,000 references), testified that the New Testament text used by Chrysostom (a pastor in the Greek part of the Catholic church at Antioch until A.D. 398, when he moved to Constantinople as 'patriarch') was practically identical to that of the 'Traditional Text' of the Reformation (The Revision Revised, p. 296). Chrysostom (ca. 347-407 AD) was an eloquent speaker known as 'the man with the golden mouth' but not renowned as a theological thinker as shown by his belief in the 'real presence' of the Mass (that the bread literally becomes the Lord Jesus Christ) and his teaching that church tradition can be equal in authority to the Scriptures.
So confused were the theologians of Rome that, while Platonic Roman Catholicism tended to allegorize the literal, the Aristotelian religious orders of Roman Catholicism tended to literalize the symbolic. In order to justify the clear cannibalistic nature of 'the mass' and to try and explain transubstantiation in a final, uniform explanation (three versions of the un-Scriptural practice existed), Aquinas ignorantly attempted to utilise Aristotle's false philosophy of 'accidents.' Before the superstitious aspects of alchemy was debunked by genuine science centuries later, Aristotle's belief was that matter can have an 'appearance' which is its mere 'accidents', while at a particle level it can physically be an entirely different substance. This is, in reality, a deception of the fabled 'Emperor's New Clothes' type - i.e. Papal Rome teaches that only the truly spiritually gifted can recognise the 'true Lord Jesus Christ' under the appearance of bread!
Modern science understands the nature of compounds in terms of molecular formulas based on the valence of atoms and knows that the visible properties of compounds are not mere 'accidents' but the result of their properties on a chemical level. The physical and chemical properties of compounds, from the simple appearance, taste, and smell, is a result of what the compound is physically, not because of its 'appearance'. The contemporary Roman Catholic Church now tries to defend the foolish deception it practiced in ancient times by appealing to blind 'faith' and claiming that the bread and wine is something spiritually different from what it appears to be because it has been 'consecrated' by a special 'priest' with special 'powers.' But the official doctrine formally set out by Aquinas specifies it is not spiritual but literal and physical. Quantitative and qualitative analysis would easily confirm that the Eucharist of Papal Rome is not protoplasm but bread and wine yet, because the Eucharist is a De Fide doctrine (a doctrine of the faith), Semper Eadem applies, and science must be rejected. It is little wonder that Papal Rome was so desperate to silence real scientists by threatening, persecuting, and imprisoning them to keep facts such as these from the ignorant public.
Despite the evidence that the early church at Antioch was a church committed to the preservation of the known canon, some believe it is possible that the leaders there may have allowed their treasured apostolic text to become corrupted in a mere three centuries. Careful researchers have considered the possibilities as to how such a corruption might have occurred that critics have proposed concerning this might are of another opinion, and e.g.:
'Why should the great apostolic and mission-minded church at Antioch send to Alexandria or any other centre for Scripture copies by which to correct her own? The Church at Antioch, conscious of her heritage and the excellence of her own first copies of the Scriptures, would have little reason to consider the resources of others superior. ... Antioch may well have been the prime source of the earliest copies of most of the New Testament Scriptures for newly established churches. ... It might appear more logical to reason that if Antioch would send anywhere for copies of New Testament Scriptures in order to purify its own text, it would most likely send to Ephesus, Galatia, Colosse, Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth, and Rome in order to acquire more perfect copies of the epistles originally sent to these locales. Another reason for questioning Antioch's dependence upon manuscripts whose provenance was Alexandria is the difference of attitude toward Scripture and its interpretation which existed between the theological schools of the two cities. Beginning as early as Theophilus (died before 188) who, as an advocate of the literal interpretation of Scripture, is considered a forerunner of the 'School of Antioch', Antioch developed a school of literal interpretation which was almost diametrically opposed to the 'School of Alexandria' with its principles of allegorical interpretation. This makes it difficult to believe that Antioch would look to Alexandria for help in either the earliest period or later when the differences between the schools became even more marked.' (Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-type and New Testament textual criticism, published September 1st, 1984, by T. Nelson Publishers, pp. 104-106).
Pastor Jack A. Moorman asks the following important questions in his introduction to his MODERN BIBLES - the Dark Secret (ref. http://www.truthquest.free-online.co.uk/jm_tds00.htm :
'WOULD IT MAKE a difference if you knew that the New Testament of your Modern Bible did not have First and Second Peter? Yet if the total number of missing words were added up, this is how much shorter the modern translations are than the King James Version. Is it a cause for concern if the names of Christ are missing 175 times, or if the word 'hell' is not found in the Old Testament, or if key doctrinal passages have been diminished? And, the biggest shock of all! Is it possible that the most basic and blatant of all early heresies concerning the Person of Christ has been given a 'new lease on life' through the Modern Versions? That these things are so, with the reasons why, are set forth in the following pages'.
Moorman goes on to describe the battle between the 'traditional text' and the 'modern critical text' as 'A Tale of Two Cities':
There is one point upon which both sides of the current Bible text-version debate agree: the early transmissional history of the New Testament is a 'tale of two cities', Antioch and Alexandria. And just as surely as the KJV Text was woven into the spiritual life of Antioch in Syria, so was also the Modern Version Text in Alexandria. ... The choice is a clear one, as there is very little common ground between them.
Certainly Antioch has by far the more glorious Biblical heritage. It became to the Gentile Christians what Jerusalem had been to the Jews, and superseded Jerusalem as the base for the spread of the Gospel. The 'disciples were called Christians first in Antioch' (Acts 11:26). It was the starting point for the Apostle Paul's missionary journeys. Mark, Barnabas, and Silas were there; as was Peter and probably Luke. The Book of Acts leaves us with no doubt that Antioch was the centre of early church activity.
Egypt shares no such glory. It has always been looked upon as a symbol of the world-system which is opposed to the things of God. God would not allow His Son (Matthew. 2), His nation (Ex. 12), His patriarchs (Gen. 50), or even the bones of the patriarchs (Ex. 13:19) to remain there. The Jews were warned repeatedly not to return to Egypt, not to rely upon it for help, not to even purchase horses there, etc. Thus, in contrast to what is being claimed today, it is hard to believe that Egypt and Alexandria would have been the central place where God would preserve His Holy Word. Frankly, it was the last place on earth that one could trust in doctrinal and biblical matters. It certainly wasn't safe to get a Bible there! Even Bruce Metzger, a supporter of the Alexandrian Text, is compelled to catalogue the vast amount of religious corruption which came from Alexandria: 'Among Christians which during the second century either originated in Egypt or circulated there among both the orthodox and the Gnostics are numerous apocryphal gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses. Some of the more noteworthy are the Gospel according to the Egyptians, the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Kerygma of Peter, the Acts of John, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle of the Apostles, and the Apocalypse of Peter. There are also fragments of exegetical and dogmatic works composed by Alexandrian Christians, chiefly Gnostics during the second century. We know, for example, of such teachers as Basilides and his son Isidore, and of Valentinus, Ptolemaeus, Heracleon, and Pantaenus. All but the last-mentioned were unorthodox in one respect or another.* In fact, to judge by the comments made by Clement of Alexandria, almost every deviant Christian sect was represented in Egypt during the second century; Clement mentions the Valentinians, the Basilidians, the Marcionites, the Peratae, the Encratites, the Docetists, the Haimetites, the Cainites, the Ophites, the Simonians, and the Eutychites. What proportion of Christians in Egypt during the second century were orthodox is not known'. (Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament, Clarendon Press, 1977, p101).
Let it be said again: Alexandria was the worst possible place to go for a Bible! Yet it is precisely the place that our present-day translators have gone in gathering the major sources of the modern Bible. (ibid., Moorman, Modern Bible Versions: The Dark Secret, Part 7 - ANTIOCH OR ALEXANDRIA - ref. http://www.truthquest.free-online.co.uk/jm_tds07.htm
[* Metzger errs in implying that Pantaenus was orthodox - in fact, he founded the heretical school of Alexandria, Egypt, and mixed the Greek philosophy of Plato with Christianity; Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150 - ca. 230) headed this school from 190 to 202 and helped develop the false doctrine of purgatory, a form of 'universalism' (the belief that most men would eventually be saved), and denied the unique Deity of Jesus and His atonement, writing, 'The Logos of God became man so that you may learn from man how man may become God' (ref. Bernard McGinn, The Presence of God, Vol. 1 - 'The Foundations of Mysticism,' p107)].
Westcott-Hort are renowned for the principle that 'oldest is best' regarding Greek New Testament manuscripts, but the facts prove the falsity of their claim. The conditions that existed in the Post-Apostolic centuries reveal that 'oldest' does not necessarily mean anything when regarding the purity of New Testament manuscripts, for an ancient Greek manuscript could just as easily be representative of a corrupted text as it could be of a pure one and, if it came from Egypt, the likelihood that it would be corrupted is greatly multiplied.
It is also clear that the 'Antiochian text' has the best claim to purity because Asia Minor was where the apostolic churches were located and where Greek was spoken natively. Conversely, Egypt was a hotbed of anti-christ heresy and Gnostic fanaticism. The use of such designations as 'Syrian', 'Antiochian', and 'Byzantine' for the Majority Text reflects its general association with that region. Many believe, with good reason, that the 'Byzantine' text is the form of the New Testament that was known and transmitted in the Aegean area from the earliest days, including the second and third centuries, and is the traditional text, adopting the reading of the majority of extant manuscripts at each place of variation. The Byzantine text-type of the Majority Text is one of four large groups of Greek manuscripts, versions, and patristic quotations identified by scholars and differs from the Textus Receptus in only about 300+ relatively insignificant places. (ref. Wilbur Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text, Christian. 5).
Wilbur Pickering, Zane Hodges, and Jakob van Bruggen argue that the Byzantine-type text, found in 80-90% of extant manuscripts, could never have become the dominant text unless it was the original, as Hodges argues effectively:
... under the normal circumstances the older a text is than its rivals, the greater are its chances to survive in a plurality or a majority of the texts extant at any subsequent period. But the oldest text of all is the autograph. Thus it ought to be taken for granted that, barring some radical dislocation in the history of transmission, a majority of texts will be far more likely to represent correctly the character of the original than a small minority of texts. This is especially true when the ratio is an overwhelming 8:2. Under any reasonably normal transmissional conditions, it would be for all practical purposes quite impossible for a later text-form to secure so one-sided a preponderance of extant witnesses'. (Hodges, Defense, p4)
Hodges, et al, reasonably propose that the Byzantine text is the original, and the other (20%) textual traditions represent these 'expected deviations' from it. Hodges also argues that statistical analysis would suggest that the preferred acceptance of 'modern critical texts' constitutes 'nothing less than a wholesale rejection of probabilities on a sweeping scale!' (ibid., p9). Counter arguments can only rely on speculation and appeals to the 'Church Fathers' who have already been shown to be devoid of serious claims to 'Apostolic Succession' or 100% reliability when it comes to preservation of the Word of God.
As Adam Clarke comments: 'Concerning the Latin writers, it is obvious to remark, that this epistle is not expressly quoted as Paul's by any of them in the three first centuries; however, it was known by Iranaeus and Tertullian as we have seen, and possibly to others also. But it is manifest that it was received as an epistle of St. Paul by many Latin writers, in the fourth, fifth, and following centuries. (A Commentary and Critical Notes).
The ancient Greek manuscripts most favoured by modern textual criticism, and embraced by heretics and apostates galore, are Egyptian, including Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Ephraem Syrus, Freer Washington, the Beatty Papyri, and the Bodmer Papyri (Pickering, Identity of the New Testament Text, Christian. 6). The Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are notable for containing many readings that denigrate the full deity of Jesus Christ - evidence that they are representative of those manuscripts that were corrupted by heretics - as nineteenth-century Presbyterian Robert Dabney noted:
The Sabellian and Arian controversies raged in the 3rd and 4th centuries and the copies now held in such high repute among scholars were written in the 4th and 5th centuries. The hostility of these documents to the Trinitarian doctrine impels the mind to the conclusion that their omissions and alterations are not merely the chance errors of transcribers, but the work of a deliberate hand. When we remember the date of the great Trinitarian contest in the Church, and compare it with the supposed date of these documents, our suspicion becomes much more pronounced. ... The so-called oldest codices agree with each other in omitting a number of striking testimonies to the divinity of Christ, and they also agree in other omissions relating to Gospel faith and practice (Robert Dabney, The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek, Southern Presbyterian Review, April 1871).
Following are some examples:
Mark 9:24 - 'Lord' is omitted in both Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Vaticanus (B)
Mark 16:9-20 - These verses are omitted in Aleph and B, thus ending Mark's gospel with the disciples in fear and confusion, with no resurrection and glorious ascension.
Luke 2:33 - 'Joseph' is changed to 'the child's father' - Aleph, B
Luke 23:42 - 'Lord' changed to 'Jesus' in Aleph and B, thus destroying this powerful reference to Christ's deity.
John 1:18 - 'the only begotten son' changed to 'the only begotten God' in Aleph 24 and B. [John Burgon proved that this reading, which appears in only five Greek manuscripts, could be traced to the heretic Valentinus, who denied the Godhead of Jesus Christ by making a distinction between the Word and the Son of God. In the Received Text there is no question that the Word is also the Son and that both are God. The Word is God (Jn 1:1); the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14); the Word is the Son (Jn 1:18). By changing Jn 1:18 to 'the only begotten God', Valentinus and his followers broke the clear association between the Word and the Son.
John 1:27 - 'is preferred before me' omitted in Aleph, B
John 3:13 - 'who is in heaven' omitted by Aleph and B
John 6:69 - 'the Christ, the Son of the living God' is changed to 'the Holy One of God' in Aleph and B
John 9:35 - 'Son of God' changed to 'Son of man' in Aleph and B
John 9:38 - 'Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him' omitted in Aleph, thus removing this powerful and incontrovertible confession of Christ as God
Acts 2:30 - 'according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ' omitted in Aleph and B, thus destroying this clear testimony that Christ himself fulfills the promise of David
Acts 20:28 - 'church of God' changed to 'church of the Lord' in Aleph and B; the Traditional Text says plainly that it was God who died on the cross and shed His blood, whereas the Alexandrian text allows for the heretical view that Jesus is the Lord but that he is not actually God. Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, follow in the footsteps of ancient 2nd century heretics, claiming Jesus as Lord but not as God.
Acts 14:10 - 'judgment seat of Christ' changed to 'judgment seat of God' in Aleph and B, thus destroying this plain identification of Jesus Christ with YHWH God (Isaiah 45:23)
1 Corinthians 15:47 - 'the Lord' omitted in Aleph, B
Ephesians 3:9 - 'by Jesus Christ' omitted in Aleph, B
1 Timothy 3:16 - 'God' is omitted and replaced with 'who' in the Sinaiticus (the Vaticanus does not contain the epistle to Timothy)
Proponents of 'modern textual criticism' claim that the 'Traditional Greek Text' which underlies the Reformation Bibles is corrupt and led scholar Robert Dabney to note:
Their common traits may be said to be an almost contemptuous dismissal of the received text, as unworthy not only of confidence, but almost of notice; the rejection of the great mass of the codices of the common text as recent and devoid of nearly all authority; and the settlement of the text by the testimony of a very few MANUSCRIPTS. for which they claim a superior antiquity, with the support of a few fathers and versions, whom they are pleased to regard as judicious and trustworthy (Robert Dabney, Discussions: Evangelical and Theological, p354-55).
Is it possible that Westcott and Hort held a prejudiced view of the Greek Received Text? Certainly this view by F.J.A. Hort - written in 1851 when he was only 23 years old and long before he had developed his textual theories or done any serious research in this field - sheds some light on the subject:
'I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek Testament, and dragged on with the villainous Textus Receptus ... think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning entirely on late MANUSCRIPTS.; it is a blessing there are such early ones. (Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, vol. 1, p211).
We should remember how early opinions can prejudice a mind against considering other alternatives and also how much further information has come to light in fairly recent years and long after the Westcott-Hort team had drawn their conclusions. While the Textus Receptus became the dominant Greek text of the New Testament from Erasmus' day and for the following two hundred and fifty years, until the publication of the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament in 1881, scores more manuscripts have been discovered since and comparison makes the view expressed by Hort look exceedingly shallow.
Textual critic Ernest Colwell ascertained that Hort was determined to overthrow the position held by the Received Text (Colwell, Scribal Habits in Early Papyri, The Bible in Modern Scholarship, Abingdon, 1965, p370) and Wilbur Pickering shared this conclusion:
'It appears that Hort did not arrive at his theory through unprejudiced intercourse with the facts. Rather, he deliberately set out to construct a theory that would vindicate his preconceived animosity for the Received Text' (Identity of the New Testament Text, Christian. 3).
The Greek text produced by modern textual criticism is shorter than the Received Text New Testament by 2,886 words (equivalent to removing the entire books of 1 and 2 Peter from the Bible, ref. Jack Moorman, Missing in Modern Bibles: Is The Full Story Being Told, Bible for Today, 1981) by virtue of removing:
Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14
Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:9-20
Luke 17:36; 23:17
John 5:4; 7:53-8:11
Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29
1 John 5:7
and also removing a significant portion of 147 other verses.
The first two English versions of any influence based on the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament of 1881 text were the English Revised Version (of 1881) and the American Standard Version of 1901. Thus a few Greek uncial manuscripts (e.g. Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) and a small number of other manuscripts of similar character were preferred over the vast majority of the 5,471 extant Greek manuscripts and lectionaries. Since the discovery of the Egyptian papyri in the 20th century, the number of Alexandrian manuscripts has increased but, compared to the vast number that support the Traditional text, they still represent a very tiny minority.
Is there any reason to believe the Vaticanus should be trusted above the Textus Receptus when the entire manuscript was severely mutilated? Dr. W. Eugene Scott, possessor of a large collection of ancient Bible manuscripts and Bibles wrote: 'the manuscript is faded in places; scholars think it was overwritten letter by letter in the 10th or 11th century, with accents and breathing [marks] added along with corrections from the 8th, 10th and 15th centuries. All this activity makes precise paleographic analysis impossible. Missing portions were supplied in the 15th century by copying other Greek manuscripts.' (Dr. W. Eugene Scott, Codex Vaticanus, 1996).
The Vaticanus is missing 749 entire sentences, 452 clauses, and 237 other words from the Gospels, but these omissions are found in hundreds of other Greek manuscripts. The total number of words omitted from the Gospels alone in Vaticanus (B) is 2,877 when compared with the majority of manuscripts (Burgon, The Revision Revised, p75). John Burgon first described how Vaticanus also omits Mark 16:9-20 while leaving a blank space for those verses of Scripture and thus making it clear that the scribe involved was aware of their presence in other manuscripts! (Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel of St. Mark Vindicated, 1871, p86-87.
The Sinaiticus (Aleph) Codex, dating from the 4th Century, was discovered by Constantine Tischendorf at St. Catherine's Monastery (Greek Orthodox) at Mount Sinai - in a waste-paper basket! Reading that Tischendorf visited the monastery for research and discovered the first part of the Alexandrian text-type manuscript (written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment) in May 1844 (he discovered a second parchment in 1859) makes one think that extremely dubious forces were at work and the object of the surrendering of these manuscripts to him and the subsequent events was the result of more than coincidences or 'divine intervention'. The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Hebrew, Georgian, and Aramaic codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library. The Sinaiticus was, at the time, considered to be the oldest 'well preserved' manuscript of the Bible yet the work left the monastery in the 19th century and was taken to Russia in circumstances that are still disputed. Later it was purchased by the British Government from Russia to form part of the British Library. Strangely, in 2009, another 'previously undiscovered' fragment of Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in St. Catherine's library!
An extensive investigation by H.J.M. Milne and T.C. Skeat, of the British Museum, concluded that The Sinaiticus discovered by Tischendorf was written by three different scribes and then corrected later by several others (ref. Scribes and Correctors of Codex Sinaiticus, London, 1938). Tischendorf counted 14,800 corrections in this manuscript (David Brown, The Great Uncials, 2000) - hardly reason to exhibit great confidence in a manuscript discovered in the hands of the Greek Orthodox church! Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener testified:
'The Codex is covered with alterations of an obviously correctional character - brought in by at least ten different revisers, some of them systematically spread over every page, others occasional, or limited to separate portions of the Manuscript, many of these being contemporaneous with the first writer, but for the greater part belonging to the sixth or seventh century.' (Scrivener, A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus, 1864)
Clearly, scribes in long past centuries knew that the Sinaiticus was not a pure text and Tischendorf and Scrivener merely rediscovered the extreme amount of careless copying and correction that identifies the manuscript as a work that should be treated with utmost caution! As Burgon noted:
'Codex Sinaiticus abounds with errors of the eye and pen to an extent not indeed unparalleled, but happily rather unusual in documents of first-rate importance. On many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through very carelessness. Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament'. (John Burgon, The Revision Revised).
It is clear that the scribes who copied the Sinaiticus were not faithful men of God who treated the Scriptures with utmost reverence as the Jewish scribes proved to have done with the Old Testament. In fact the total number of words omitted in Aleph in the Gospels alone is 3,455 compared with the Greek Received Text (ibid., Burgon, p75) and Mark 16:9-20 is also omitted in the Sinaiticus, but it was originally there and has been erased.
The Sinaiticus also shares another error with the Vaticanus by exhibiting Gnostic influence in changing 'the only begotten Son' to 'the only begotten God' in the important verse, John 1:18. So these manuscripts bear evidence of being corrupt above all other Greek uncials or minuscules and John Burgon, who dedicated much of his life to the study of Greek manuscripts and who personally analyzed the Vaticanus in Rome, testified:
When we study the New Testament by the light of such Codexes as B Aleph D L, we find ourselves in an entirely new region of experience; confronted by phenomena not only unique but even portentous. The text has undergone apparently an habitual, if not systematic, depravation; has been manipulated throughout in a wild way. Influences have been demonstrably at work which altogether perplex the judgment. The result is simply calamitous.
There are evidences of persistent mutilation, not only of words and clauses, but of entire sentences. The substitution of one expression for another, and the arbitrary transposition of words, are phenomena of such perpetual occurrence, that it becomes evident at last that which lies before us is not so much an ancient copy, as an ancient recension of the Sacred Text. And yet not by any means a recension in the usual sense of the word as an authoritative revision; but only as the name may be applied to the product of individual inaccuracy or caprice, or tasteless assiduity on the part of one or many, at a particular time or in a long series of years. There are reasons for inferring, that we have alighted on five specimens of what the misguided piety of a primitive age is known to have been fruitful in producing. ... these codexes abound with so much licentiousness or carelessness as to suggest the inference, that they are in fact indebted for their preservation to their hopeless character. Thus it would appear that an evil reputation ensured their neglect in ancient times; and has procured that they should survive to our own, long after multitudes which were much better had perished in the Master's service (Burgon and Miller, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicated, 1896, p32-33).
Learning that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus disagree in thousands of places with the vast majority of other Greek manuscripts and also disagree with one another in as many or more places, should we really place great confidence in them? There are 3,036 differences between the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus in the Gospels alone, not counting minor errors such as spelling (Herman Hoskier, Codex B and Its Allies, Vol. II, p1). In spite of these facts, Vaticanus (B) or Sinaiticus (Aleph), either individually or together, are the source of most of the omissions and glaring changes in the many modern versions which have multiplied serious errors in major doctrines, such as the Deity of Christ and the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
(Continued on page 333)