Answering Some Twitter Claims About the Text Issue

I came across this tweet from David Green @Biblicist4Life a little late.  I have interacted with David several times on Twitter and generally found him rigorous and studied.  Since I was late to interact with this particular tweet (given the very short shelf-life of Twitter), I decided to write a post about it.  David is pretty dogmatic in this tweet – not that I object to raw assertion.  But I found several “facts” in it that I think require a little more information than he provides.  And since King James Only debates have been the rage for nigh unto two decades running, I thought I would feed the beast and keep things going. 

As debates go, both sides believe they hold the stake to drive through the heart of the opposing side.  Yet, somehow, the discussion continues.  This comes, no doubt, from the obstinance and implacability of the other side.  Plus, KJV people don’t think much.  Plus, we all talk past each other.  Plus, King James might have been a homosexual.  And we know he was an Anglican.  So, the debate continues. 

Anyhow, let me start by copying and pasting the entire tweet.  Then, I will break it down and attempt an answer for each point.  Here’s the tweet…

7 Facts I Wish KJV-Onlyists Would Get Straight:

1. There is no received text. Sorry. There are errors in all Greek manuscripts. Not only are there not 5000+ manuscripts that agree with each other, there actually aren’t any manuscripts that perfectly agree with each other. And I’m not talking about just the dreaded “Alexandrian” manuscripts. All of the manuscripts have errors. The Greek NT hasn’t been passed down cleanly.

2. The KJV translators didn’t have one text in front of them. They consulted many texts that differed from each other because…there was no received text. So they guessed. Somewhat educated guessing, sure. But sometimes there is good evidence on both sides of a textual variant. Hard to say which is original and which is an error. And the KJV translators didn’t hide this fact. They made textual choices, and they included marginal notes with alternate readings where they were uncertain due to their Greek texts disagreeing.

3. Westcott and Hort didn’t discover any manuscripts. Vaticannus has been housed in the Vatican Library (hence its name) for centuries. Sinaiticus was discovered by Tichendorf in St. Catherine’s monastery. (This point isn’t overly relevant. It just bugs me when people talk about Westcott and Hort discovering these. Lol)

4. It’s true that Westcott and Hort published a new edition of the Greek New Testament in the 1800s, but they didn’t only use 2 manuscripts to create it. That’s absurd. What would be accurate is to say that they leaned heavily (not exclusivity) on a few manuscripts. At times they leaned too heavily on them. Pretty much everyone today acknowledges that. Which leads to the next fact…

5. NO ONE IS STILL USING WESTCOTT & HORT’S GREEK TEXT. This whole argument from KJV-onlyists is super outdated. The KJVO attacks on Westcott and Hort’s text were an exaggeration a hundred years ago. They’re completely irrelevant today. No one is still using Westcott & Hort’s text. Zero Bibles are being translated from it.

6. The Greek text that is being used today (Nestle-Aland 28th edition or the UBS 5th, same text just different apparatus) has made hundreds of changes in favor of the majority of Greek manuscripts. In other words, the imbalance of Westcott and Hort relying too heavily on a few manuscripts has been corrected. Decades ago. Now you might think it hasn’t gone far enough and it is still somewhat imbalanced. Fine. Make that argument. But don’t say that we’re all using Westcott & Hort’s text that was created by comparing only 2 manuscripts. Both of those are lies. Stop it.

7. The KJV isn’t based on majority readings. Here’s where the argument really falls apart…Most KJV-onlyists believe that there are 5,000+ Greek manuscripts that support their text, and basically only 2 manuscripts line up with the modern text. They tend to be shocked when they find out that this just isn’t true. For example, take the 2 most significant “missing verses” in the NT: 1 John 5:7 and Acts 8:37. Both of these verses are absent in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. So the “We have 5000 on our side and you guys have 2” argument is just not true. In hundreds of places, the exact opposite is true. When it comes to 1 John 5.7, the KJV guys have like 4 Greek manuscripts that contain it (all dated to over 1000 years after 1 John was written).

Some KJV-onlyists know this last fact. And when you bring it up, they will never be ok with removing a verse like 1 John 5:7, even though the overwhelming majority of Greek manuscripts don’t have it. They’ll come up with some reason to keep everything just as it is in the KJV. Because at the end of the day, the manuscript evidence doesn’t really matter to them. What matters is whatever the KJV says. The argument about a “Received Text” is just a distraction. KJV-onlyism is a conclusion in search of an argument. So, the advocates of KJV-onlyism have to use inconsistent/contradictory arguments for their position, depending on which variant is being discussed.

Let’s take this apart, point by point…

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