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In Defense of Critical Eclecticism

In Defense of Critical Eclecticism : A Reply to

By Drake Shelton


            There are five main reasons why I take the Critical Eclectic position: 1. The Critical text position is the most consistent with the Bible verses mentioning preservation. 2. The Critical Text Position is the most consistent with the textual position of Jesus and the apostles; 3. The Critical text position is the most consistent with Reformed and Exegetical. Hermeneutics; 4. The Critical text position is more consistent with the philosophy of translation given in Scripture (Nehemiah 8:8, Mark 7:9-13,); 5. The Majority Text position is self defeating on many accounts;  In recent years the preservation of the text of the New Testament has been hotly debated, renounced, dogmatically misrepresented and in a number of ways made very confusing.  In simple form there are about four main views that people have about preservation:

Ø      God has not verbally preserved His Word (If there is a God at all)

Ø      God’s words have been preserved in a particular English translation and only that translation

Ø      God has preserved the words of the autographa in one particular Hebrew and one particular Greek text.

Ø      God has preserved his Word in the multiplicity of manuscripts which must be compared to determine the specific wording of the originals.

            I hold to the fourth position and in a small discourse I am arguing against the MT position that excludes the Alexandrian families as untrustworhty.  Now I do not want to be misunderstood.  I am not arguing against the MT, but the position that some hold to the MT at the expense of the older manuscripts.  As I begin the next discourse I would like to digress and mention that the men I am in controversy with are godly Bible defending and believing men, who love the Lord.  In our apostate country it is a refreshing and blessed experience to hear men defending the preservation of the divinely inspired Word of God. Though I believe the MT only position is an incorrect interpretation of the Bible, is divisive and is the source of unnecessary name calling, the men who hold to this position are godly Reformed men and I find this necessary discourse unfortunate.  In dealing with objections from the MT position I will attempt to comprehensively display in general form the view of preservation that God has preserved His Word in the multiplicity of manuscripts which must be compared to determine the specific wording of the originals.


I.  The Critical text position is the most consistent with the Bible verses mentioning preservation.


First, scriptural philosophy must be obeyed in this discussion and I would like to clear up some misinterpretations that some use in defense of their position claiming that it is the Bible’s position.  I will deal with the main verses used regarding this issue, refute the false interprestations and supply positive arguments.


“Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psa 12:7  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”


            Before I begin I would like to quote Matthew Henry:


“Psalm 12: 7 Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. This intimates that, as long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men in it, more or less, who will threaten by their wretched arts to ruin religion, by wearing out the saints of the Most High, Dan_7:25. But let God alone to maintain his own interest and to preserve his own people. He will keep them from this generation, (1.) From being debauched by them and drawn away from God, from mingling with them and learning their works. In times of general apostasy the Lord knows those that are his, and they shall be enabled to keep their integrity. (2.) From being destroyed and rooted out by them. The Church is built upon a rock, and so well fortified that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In the worst of times God has his remnant, and in every age will reserve to himself a holy seed and preserve that to his heavenly kingdom.”


            Notice the lack of insight into scriptural preservation in this passage. Many people use this passage to defend their position but I fear they are doing violence to the text. I think the correct reading of this passage is exactly what we have in the NASB.


A.     The Bible teaches the preservation of a message not the preservation of the    

specific form of the message, though the message is made up of specific words.


“Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

Psa 12:7  You, O LORD, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever. “


Psalm 119:89 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.


Psalm 119:152  Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.”


            These verses are used to prove that God has preserved without error, every detail of His word in every age in a specific text family.  This is again gross violence to this passage. The context is clear that David is under great trial and suffering and he is wrestling with the concept of God subjecting him to such pain and persecution.  Suppose ye a case.  Imagine you had just finished doing you morning devotions and you read these two passages and were meditating upon them:


“Psalm 121:7  The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.


Proverbs 1:33  "But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”


            Immediately following this, a government agent bursts in your house, tears your Bible from you, arrests you and burns down your house because you are a Christian living in a communist country. Has God’s Word changed? No, His word is forever settled in heaven.   This is the sense of David’s statement. Some try to use this verse to prove that an uninspired sinful, mortal man is protected by heaven to make no mistakes while copying a Greek manuscript and that family of manuscripts and scribes past and future.  I just don’t see that in those verses.   In addition both “founded” and “settled” have a fixed and stable sense to them.  To prove the MT position these verses would need words that have a linear or continuing activity of sustenance through the “generations” that the MT position is supposedly defending. 


Matthew 5:17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”



            This verse is the heralding used by most KJV only advocates and I think their reasoning is incorrect, but what really concerns me is that Reformed people use this passage to defend their MT position.  John Owen discusses this passage:


“From these particular instances we may return to the consideration of the law of the decalogue in general, and the perpetual power of exacting obedience wherewith it is accompanied. That in the Old Testament it is frequently declared to be universally obligatory, and has the same efficacy ascribed unto it, without putting in any exceptions to any of its commands or limitations of its number, I suppose will be granted. The authority of it is no less fully asserted in the New Testament, and that also absolutely without distinction, or the least intimation of excepting the fourth command from what is affirmed concerning the whole. It is of the law of the decalogue that our Savior treats, Matt. v. 17-19. This he affirms that he came not to dissolve, as he did the ceremonial law, but to fulfill it; and then affirms that not one jot or tittle of it shall pass away. And making thereon a distribution of the whole into its several commands, he declares his disapprobation of them who shall break, or teach men to break, any one of them. And men make bold with him, when they so confidently assert that they may break one of them, and teach others so to do, without offense. That this reaches not to the confirmation of the seventh day precisely, we shall after-wards abundantly demonstrate.” (Owen, Works, 23:372).


The jot and tittle is not in reference to the abiding form of the words, else we need to read only the Greek and Hebrew, but to the abiding obligation to obey its doctrinal truth.  John Calvin says in reference to this passage:


“But what does it mean, that every part of the law shall be fulfilled down to the smallest point? for we see, that even those, who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, are very far from keeping the law of God in a perfect manner. I answer, the expression, shall not pass away, must be viewed as referring, not to the life of men, but to the perfect truth of the doctrine. “There is nothing in the law that is unimportant, nothing that was put there at, random; and so it is impossible that a single letter shall perish.”(Commentaries Vol I, Matthew)


Notice the total lack of specific preservation of manuscript families. As much as some want this to teach the abiding supernatural preservation of every Greek distinction in its vocabulary through a chosen manuscript family this passage clearly and simply teaches the abiding truth and obligation to obey the true moral doctrine of the law of God. Else, that would imply that the objection Jesus is addressing is that He was tampering with the contemporary translation.  Is that what the Pharisees were so upset about? Did they accuse Jesus of mistranslating a Hebrew manuscript?  Was it the Septuagint that Jesus was accused of revising?  If it was, I never read that passage in my New Testament.


B.)  The Critical text position is the most consistent with incidents of lost or destroyed     manuscripts recorded in scripture.


1.       2 Chronicles 34 refutes the very skeletal structure of the Majority Text   


“Luke 16:17 "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.


Mark 13:31"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.


Duet 29: 29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.


Psalm 102:18This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.

Psalm 111:7The works of His hands are truth and justice;
All His precepts are sure. 8They are upheld forever and ever;
They are performed in truth and uprightness.


Isaiah 59:20"A Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. 21"As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."


            These are verses that promise God's preservation of His Word.  Now to say that these verses teach a perfect inerrant translation of every specific of the originals by an uninspired copyist is stretching these verses.  You may ask why and I will give a reason:


            Francis Turretin points out:


 "Yet, all copies are just that: copies. And they are to be corrected, where necessary, by the originals. In 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 we read of the finding of the "original" book of the law of Moses by the priest Hilkiah (the literal reading of 2 Chronicles 34:14 is "by the hand of Moses"). Albeit the men of that day had copies of the law (which is obvious from their carrying out the work required by the law in 2 Chronicles 34:1-13), there were apparently certain teachings which were not found in the copies which were in the originals. Israel had been guilty of not doing all that God had required (verses 19-21).  Thus, obedience of the people had to be governed by the Word as it was originally given "by the hand of Moses" (verses 29ff.)."(Institutes of Elenctic Theology, I:72-73)


            The clear point that Turretin excludes is that every specific of the Law had not been preserved in every generation and time period. He even admits there were parts of the Word of God that were lost and that is the very reason the king Josiah tore his clothing (vs 19). It is clear that not every specific of the Bible is preserved without error to every generation and time period.


2.      Exodus 32:19 compared with Exodus 34:1, 28 clearly records a forty day and forty night time period where a previous manuscript written with God’s hand is lost to the Church.


3.      Jeremiah 36:1-23 also clearly records an incident where a manuscript                  recording a fresh prophecy from the Lord is destroyed and for a time lost to the Church.


 1Pe 1:23  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

1Pe 1:24  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

1Pe 1:25  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.


This verse is used to prove that God has preserved without error, every detail of the wording of His word in every age in a specific text family.  I am personally amazed at how MT people have such disdain for KJV only people, while at the same time using the exact same arguments from the exact same verses.  Maybe I am making too much of that but, that’s in passing.   Imagine that you are that same Christian living in a Communist country and instead of robbing you of your entire Bible, that government agent only ripped out Psalm 121:7.  Let’s say you never saw that verse again. Are you now bereft of the Word of God?  Can you really say with confidence that the book you still hold in your hand is the Word of God? Of course it is the Word of God, because the Word of God endures forever unlike the fading and corrupting nature of the creation (i.e. manuscripts made of papyrus and animal skins).  The beautiful thing about God’s book is that he teaches the same thing over and over.  


“Proverbs 1:33  "But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil."


Genesis 50:20  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.


Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Psa 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”


            Even if someone were to take that verse from you would still know God’s divinely inspired teaching on the subject of His providence in evil and the protection of His children.  This verse says nothing in support of the MT only position. I will suggest that this verse refutes the position of MT only and all other positions that claim preservation through perfect copying of every detail in one manuscript family.  Taking a position that finds fault with every new version (and excluding the KJV which has many errors) and claiming that preservation is the perfect copying and transfer of every detail is self defeating.  If that’s the Biblical definition of preservation then we are all men most miserable, because there are differences in every manuscript and there are errors in every manuscript.  On the MT basis God’s Word has failed and he has not preserved His Word in all these English translations that we have because they all contain mistakes.  Now some may immediately say, “Oh but that’s not my position. My position is that I think they are preserved in the MT not these new versions.” Ans. That’s exactly my point.   Then America and most other countries in all these passing generations have been without the pure Word which your position defends and falls on itself.  The first critical printings of the MT were 1982 and 1985 (The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text, 1985, by Zane C. Hodges , Arthur L. Farstad ).  Was the world without the Word of God until 1982? If you stay consistent, you will have to say yes, which totally defeats your own position and the world was without the pure Word until 1982, or 1985. 


II. The Critical Text position is the most consistent with the textual position of Jesus and the apostles.


A.)  Christ and the apostles quote the Septuagint over the Hebrew in the majority of Old Testament quotations. 


Also, it can be safely said that the translators of the LXX were not exactly reformed brethren. Yet Christ and the apostles quote it constantly as the Word of God. Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Alexandrinus  originally all contained the Septuagint. I would really like to see the facial expression on an Alexandrian scholar in the 5th century if some Christian condemned Him for reading or teaching from Codex Alexandrinus with the argument, “Why listen to Egypt.”  The N.T. apostles and Christ Himself quote the Septuagint in the vast majority of the N.T. To the demise of the MT that scorns Alexandria, the Septuagint was translated in Alexandria. The Septuagint has numerous differences with the Hebrew.  The apostles and Christ quoted numerous times as the Word of God a translation that was overseen and initiated by a pagan general (Ptolemy). The MT advocate will ask, “Why listen to Egypt?” Ans. Because the apostles and Christ did.  


B.)  The Septuagint differs from the Hebrew wording.  The Septuagint argument is used by the King James translators and is recorded in their preface on page xvii as the argument of “most learned men” and is not a liberal argument:


“The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet, which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it, …which they would not have done, nor by their example of using of it so grace and commend it to the Church if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God.”[1]



III. The Critical text position is the most consistent with Reformed and exegetical hermeneutics in regard to the specific use of the Old Testament by the apostles.


A.)  The usage of the Old Testament by the Apostles in regard to the rebuilt temple      (Acts 15:14-19) is a perfect example of the specific use the Old Testament in Reformed Theology and is binding on the believer as is the specific translation philosophies used by the Apostles.


B.) The usage of the Old Testament in regard to the New Covenant in Hebrews 8 is a    perfect example of the specific use the Old Testament in Reformed Theology and is binding on the believer as is the specific translation philosophies used by the apostles.


IV. The Critical text position is more consistent with the philosophy of translation given in Scripture (Nehemiah 8:8, Mark 7:9-13)


A.) Nehemiah 8:8 records the philosophy of Nehemiah the prophet as giving the “sense” for the purpose of understanding and the sense is regarded in verse 9 as “the words of the law.”


B.) Mark 7:9-13 equates the word of God with the correct sense and interpretation of what the Bible teaches on the fifth commandment not to the exact wording of the passage.  Our opponents like to make the point that if we take this view we have to take a dynamic equivalence view to translation.  They simply confuse our view of preservation with our view of translation.


“Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. Mar 7:10  For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: Mar 7:11  But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. Mar 7:12  And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Mar 7:13  Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. KJV)”


V.  The Majority Text position is self-defeating.


A.) The belief that God has preserved every detail of His Word in every age is refuted by the fact that a critical apparatus of the MT did not come about until 1982.


B.)  The belief that counting manuscripts is less scientific than dating manuscripts is   irrational.


The MT advocate heralds the KJV as the true representation of the MT failing to recognize that the translators of the KJV made a specific point to refute MT arguments in their own preface. Points mentioned by the translators that contradict MT:


1.) “That we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English set forth by men of our profession…containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.”[2]


2.) “They that are wise had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.”[3]  


3.) “We know that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth that any variety of readings of their Vulgar edition should be put in the margin”[4]  The papacy had claimed authority to interpret the Bible and the notion of a variety of readings is a direct attack to their authority.  A variety of reading speaks well of a translation that believes in the Protestant priesthood of the believer.  This priesthood can be overemphasized as it has been in America, but abuse does not overrule this doctrine. 


VI. Objections


Obj 1.) “Recognizing which text fits the Biblical presuppositions is a legitamate role of textual criticism. This prevents us from blindly following either Erasmus (like Textus Receptus fans do) or blindly following five liberal experts (like most modern evangelical translation teams do).” Phillip G. Kayser, PhD,“Has God Indeed Said?”, pg 11-12

Ans. First, I have proven already that the presuppositions used in this book are foreign to the text of the Bible.  In addition, the use of numerous texts in paragraph form are used to seemingly overwhelm the reader with verse references to prove without a shadow of a doubt that these verses teach what the author proposes.  I find this practice very “concerning”, to avoid use of a more piercing term.

            Secondly, this presupposition is the exact reason why the MT position finds itself in the bind it does.  As mentioned earlier, if the presuppositions mentioned here in this book are true we are all men most miserable.  The reason being, the apostles and Christ qoute numerous times from a translation (the Septuagint) not holding to the presuppositions mentioned by Dr. Kayser, as the Word of God, which finds fault with the majority of the O.T. qoutations in the N.T as well as the apostles and Christ Himself.

            Thirdly, one of the reasons I am doing this study is the false notion that those who use a newer version as the Word of God, which has Alexandrian manuscripts underlining it are somehow liberals, under the influence of liberal theology or just plain apostates.  Dr. Custer, in his book The Truth About The King James Version Controversy, says on page 6:

“In the Alexandrian text Jesus Christ is called “Lord” some 749 times. The deity of Christ is taught  as well in 161 verses in the Gospels and Acts; in the Thessalonian and Corinthian epistles it is taught in 57 more verses; in Romans and Galatians it is taught in 40 more verses.  The deity of Christ is not found in just a few proof texts; it is woven into the very structure of the New Testament…….Most of the modern translations are poor, not because they use a different text, but because they are doctrinally prejudiced and will not allow the text to say what is says.”

            Some people will bring up the argument that the NASB attacks the virgin birth of Christ by siting Luke 2:33,43.

“Luke 2:33  And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.”

“Luke 2:43  and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it,”


          Their argument is that Joseph is implied as Christ’s father. They will proudly turn in their KJV to these verses and read:


“Luke 2:33  And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.”

“Luke 2:43  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.”


            If this is the argument: That the NASB calls Joseph, Christ’s father, then this argument proves too much.  The KJV does the same thing in the same chapter:


“Luke 2:48  And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”


            This kind of example could go on for pages against the claims of some, that people reading newer versions are followers of liberal theology.


            Fourthly, it is often said that the newer versions “blindly” follow the NA 27 (eclectic, or Alexandrian text), and thereby are “blindly following five liberal experts.”  I would like to quote passages that the NASB includes in the text that are not included in the NA27, but is included in the MT.


“Mat 17:21  ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] Mat 18:11  ["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] Mat 23:14  ["Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.] Mar 7:16  ["If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."]Mar 9:44  [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] Mar 9:46  [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] Mar 11:26  ["But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions."] Mar 15:28  [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with transgressors."] Luk 17:36  ["Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left."] Luk 23:17  [Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.] Joh 5:3  In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; Joh 5:4  for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] Act 8:37  [And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."] Act 15:34  [But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.] Act 28:29  [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.] Rom 16:24  [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]”

(I would like to add that the reason I quote all these passages in full is so the reader can see for themselves the bracketing of these verse in the NASB, so as to not obligate the reader to take my word and interpretation on these passages as some do to seemingly overwhelm the reader with a false sense of support.) 

                Therefore, it is clear that the NASB does not blindly follow one text family but does take into account the MT giving it much play and spotlight in the NASB.  Therefore, this accusation is with all do respect… wrong.

Obj 2.) “The preservation of every word of the Bible is of critical importance to God……  “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).” Phillip G. Kayser, PhD,“Has God Indeed Said?”, pg 13

            First, I would like to point out a rather embarrassing portion of information from this quote.  Dr. Kayser is here quoting from the NKJ version.  Based on Dr. Kayser’s statements on page 28 he argues against himself. In discussing the variant in 1 Tim 3:16 Kayser writes:

“So we have to judge between 97% and 2%, “God” versus “who”.  It is really hard to imagine any possible set of circumstances in the transcriptional history sufficient to produce the cataclysmic overthrow in statistical probability that is required by the claim that “who” is the original reading.”

            This argument is used many times in his book and comes back to haunt him in numerous passages.  In the MT a number of passages are omitted that the NKJV includes;  For instance in 1 John 5:7-8 the Majority text reads like this:

“1Jo 5:7  For there are three that bear witness: 1Jo 5:8  the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.” (EMTV version by Paul Esposito of Stauros Ministries . Drew upon the work of  Dr. Wilbur Pickering's work of collating manuscripts, holds the same position as Dr. Kayser) 


However the NKJV reads like this:


1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth:[b] the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

                There is some serious adding going on there in the NKJV according to the position of Dr. Kayser.  This kind of thing happens in numerous places in the NKJV and the KJV.  These are the verses that are added in the NKJV that are omitted in the EMTV which is the MT translation:  Act 24:7, Act 15:34, Act 8:37, Luke 17:36.  Again, the mountain that the MT only position has to overcome is the fact that their view on preservation defeats itself by their very arguments.  If we just received the EMTV (copyright 2002-2003) in the past few years then we were not given the pure Word until now and so it has not been preserved in specific to every generation and time period.

            Secondly, this reading in 1 John 5:7 occurs only 2 times (61 and 629) out of the 5000 plus manuscripts we have.  Kayser makes an argument that 1 Tim 3:16 is 97% to 2% in favor of the KJV and the NKJV but happens to leave out that the reading of 1 John 5:7 is about 99.96% to .04% in favor of the NASB over the KJV and the NKJV.  The truth is all of these versions and manuscripts have problems and variants, not just the newer versions.   According to Dr. Kayser’s own presupposition on page 27 of his booklet, “The true text will far outnumber corrupt texts.”  Therefore, according to Dr. Kayser’s own statements the KJV and the NKJ are corrupt for they use manuscripts of extreme minority.  The frustrating thing for me, is that even after pointing this out to a MT advocate, he says that they do have problems with all these versions and another version needs to be done based on the MT.  Maybe so, but my friend don’t miss what point you are making.  By saying that all these versions are corrupt and we need a new version, you are saying that the English speaking people have not had a specific pure translation for all these years. Therefore the MT only position falls on itself again when it states, “therefore God has promised to preserve every detail of His Word in every age” Phillip G. Kayser, PhD,“Has God Indeed Said?”, pg 13.


Obj 3.)  Most MT only supporters make the argument that we should not necessarily expect to find an early “Byzantine” MSS (the earliest Byzantine manuscript we have is the middle of the 4th century, Matthew and Luke). They argue that these texts would have been used and worn out because of their popularity. They argue that the reason we find Alexandrian manuscripts earlier is because no one used them.


Ans. In Dr. Custer’s book, The Truth About The King James Version Controversy, he says in response to KJV only arguments (which sadly are the same arguments used by MT guys) on page 9-10:


Some will say, “But could not these Byzantine manuscripts be copied from earlier sources?” Yes, of course. But what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as well. The Alexandrian manuscripts were also copied from earlier sources, which would put the evidence for them back in the first century! The plain truth of the matter is that the Alexandrian text has a two century advantage over the Byzantine text in age. It is also clear that the Byzantine text is a derived text. It obviously incorporates into itself the earlier readings found in both the Alexandrian and Western texts…..A clear example of the derived nature of the Byzantine text is found in Luke 24:53 in which the disciples are described as being in the temple “praising and blessing God” (E VIII century, etc.). The Alexandrian text has the reading “blessing God” (P75 II-III century, etc.). The Western text has the reading “praising God” (D V-VI century, etc). The Byzantine text simply put both readings together rather than omit one reading.”

            I would like to add the fact that there are people today who use and teach out of copies of scripture.  The texts wear out and I have numerous worn out copies of the Bible on my shelf in front of me right now.  Here’s my point: notice how I said the worn out texts are in front of me right now. I did not throw them away. Why, because people don’t do that.  People do not throw away Bibles. I have never known of anyone throwing away even the most worn and torn copy of the scripture.  So are we supposed to believe that every Christian with a Byzantine text from the first century to the middle of the 4th century just lost, or threw away their copy of scripture? Even in a time of war (which would be very rare during Pax Romana from 27 A.D. to around 180 A.D) after around 180 A.D. there was pleanty of time after 70 AD to disperse these texts.  There was obvious persecution of believers, and this would be the strongest argument to make from the MT position, though still weak. Early texts p66 and p75 of the Alexandrian family date in the second century and were found just a few miles south of Cairo, Egypt. Other manuscripts were found in Oxyrhynchus.  Are we to believe this area was left alone by the Roman persecution?  The opposite is true. Northern Africa came under great persecution under the reign of Roman emporer Decius (249-251 A.D.).  Decius demanded that bishops and officers of Christian Churches sacrifice to the gods of Rome in obedience to the emporer. Certificates were given to those who complied while those without the certificates were persecuted. Fourty six of these certificates have ample documentation and four of them come from Oxyrhynchus! You can see a copy of one of these certificates at this link: (  Just a few years later Valerian came to power and started killing more Christians in North Africa including Cyprian of Carthage in 258 A.D.

            Kayser objects to the argument that the Byzantine text was a derived text, and has additions to it to smooth out the Greek.

“Thus Aland explains away the smoothness of the Greek in the Byzantine text by saying that scribes were offended by the course and faltering Greek of the original and sought to change the word usage to make the poor Greek sound better….On the other hand, Church history substantiates the Biblical presupposition.  The Church fathers were very zealous to guard against even the slightest deviation from Scriptural usage.”  Phillip G. Kayser, PhD,“Has God Indeed Said?”, pg 18-19

            Kayser goes on to qoute Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Gaius, Dionysius and Irenaeus among others to support his interpretation of Biblical preservation.  In these qoutes the Church fathers objected to those who, “perverts the sayings”, “changed the text”, “altered the text”, “tampered with his writings”, and Irenaeus’ claim is that the scriptures were handed down, “without falsification.”  The problem with these qoutes is that they could all be used to defend the eclectic position because of the general language they all use. I suggest these phrases do not prove Kayser’s presupposition.  The issue is not whether we believe the Bible has been perverted, tampered with, changed or falsified.  The issue of preservation focuses our attention on the question: Can a manuscript with mistakes in it (though the message not changed) ipso facto truly be called the preserved Word of God?  The problem Dr. Kayser has is all the manuscripts have variants, and not one of them is the same.  However, this does not mean the divine doctrine has been perverted, changed or tampered with but has been preserved for us in the totality of the manuscripts we have.  Therefore, these qoutations are another example of filling page space with ink to give the illiusion that more support is underlining the authors position than is truly the case, therefore defrauding the reader.  In addition, to say “Even the slightest changes simply were not tolerated” (pg 22) is either guising the author’s definition of “change” , or is simply blind denial of the reality that all our 5000 plus manuscripts disagree in some area or another.

Obj 4.)  “P66 is claimed as an old witness to the “Alexandrian text,” yet is has “roughly two mistakes per verse.” Phillip G. Kayser, PhD,“Has God Indeed Said?”, pg 31

            By way of introduction I would like to admit that the ecelctic position is not to predjudice a certain family of manuscripts and is critical with all of them, admiting that there are mistakes and problems with many manuscripts from the Alexandrian family.  However, this does not negate the value of the earlier testimony. 

Ans. Daniel K. Davey writing in God’s Word In Our Hands pg 203 says:

“Though the MT advocates may find fault with P66 (and other papyri as well) not all papyri can be looked upon with the same suspicion. In fact, the beauty of the 2nd and 3rd century papyri fragments is they are clear testimonials to the reality of the New testament without unfolding the whole of the New testament text.  Many are credible witnesses to the historicity of the Greek autographa and must not be overloooked because of some textual agenda. If absolute commitment to a textual family is an “agenda”, then does not this become the MT’s own version of the W-H a priori argument ?”

Objection 5.) Critical Eclectic says that the variants do not leave us bereft of any doctrinal truth.  However, John 3:13 says “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven”; The segment regarding the Son of man in heaven is left out of the NASB. This doctrinal truth of Christ’s omnipresence is missing on the eclectic view.

Ans.) “Gen 19:24  Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,”  Every Reformed commentator I have read sees this as the pre-incarnate Christ, from the context of Abraham’s three visitors, being distinguished from his Father.  They are both titled LORD (Which refers to the Holy Name of God in the original) proving their unity.  One is on earth and the other is in heaven yet they are one. This is exactly what Jesus is referring to in John 3:13.   Theologians have often used this verse to prove the Trinity from the Old Testament. There is no problem here.



                [1] F.H. Scrivener,  The Translators to the Reader in the The Holy Bible, King James Version (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, Originally published in 1611, The text is taken from Scrivener’s 1873 edition in his Cambridge Paragraph Bible) ,xvii

                [2] F.H. Scrivener,  The Translators to the Reader in the The Holy Bible, King James Version (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, Originally published in 1611, The text is taken from Scrivener’s 1873 edition in his Cambridge Paragraph Bible) ,xvi



                [3] Ibid., xxi

                [4] Ibid., xxi