|XVIII||A Key Piller In The Westcott And Hort Theory|
|XIX||A Survey of Leading Church Fathers|
|XX||The Research of John Burgon and Edward Miller Into Patristic Quotation|
|XXI||Specific Examples of the Early Patristic Support for Received Text Readings|
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This section seeks to gather what early church leaders had to say about the actual text of the New Testament. What do they say about the attempt to corrupt or preserve it? Did they have a part in this? We are especially interested in what kind of text they quoted from in their numerous writings. Do they bear witness to the text variously referred to as Byzantine, Syrian, Majority, Traditional or Received? Or do these early Fathers quote from a small minority of conflicting manuscripts known as Alexandrian, Western, Neutral, etc.; i.e. the kind of manuscripts which Drs. Westcott and Hort used last century to build their revised Greek New Testament. This Greek Testament has been the basis of nearly all 20th century translations.
[chart: contents shown below]
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Much of the material in this section has been gathered from "The Identity of the New Testament Text" by Wilbur Pickering.
Without agreeing with all of its conclusions, it is among the most authoritative to be written on the text of the New Testament in our generation. As D. A. Carson (no friend of the Received Text) has said, "The most formidable defiance of the priority of the Byzantine text yet published in our day."
Many authors and textual critics are quoted in Pickering's book. They have given different names to the various "families" of texts. For the sake of simplicity we will refer to these as either Received Text (TR) or Westcott and Hort (WH).
Dr. Hort claimed that Chrysostom who died in 407 was the first Church Father to characteristically use the TR. He said that the readings characteristic of the Received Text are never found prior to about AD 350. This is a fundamental pillar in the Westcott and Hort theory and if shown to be untrue, as Kenyon says ''there would be an end to Hort's theory, for its premises would be shown to be thoroughly unsound."
Polycarp (69 - 155) For many years the pastor of the church of Smyrna Asia Minor. Irenaeus (130 - 200) states that he was a disciple of the Apostle John. In writing to the Philippian church (115), he makes about fifty clear quotations from many of the NT books. He said "Whoever perverts the saying of the Lord that one is the firstborn of Satan."
Justin Martyr (100 - 165) Born in Samaria, died in Rome. Wilkinson stated "Beginning shortly after the death of the Apostle John, four names stand out in prominence whose teachings contributed both to the victorious heresy and to the final issuing of manuscripts of a corrupt New Testament. These four are Justin Martyr, Tatian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen." Many good things have justifiably been said about him. But he made the fatal mistake of presenting the Christian message in philosophical terms. Newman indicates that to Justin, Christ's work on the cross was not so much to satisfy the Divine justice, but rather through such an example to enlighten men and turn them from the worship of demons to God. Miller says, "the texts of Hippolytus, Methodius, Irenaeus, and even of Justin, are not of that exclusively western character which Hort ascribes to them. TR readings occur almost equally with others in Justin works and predominate in the other three."
Tatian (110 - 172) A learned teacher who was "converted" to Christianity and studied under Justin Martyr at Rome. He turned to Syrian Gnosticism. He wrote the "Diatessaron" in which he combined the four Gospel narratives into one, eliminating the, genealogies and all passages referring to Christ's Jewish descent. According to Metzger, the heretic Marcion (died 160) also did this with his copy of the Gospel of Luke. The Diatessaron was so corrupted that in later years a bishop of Syria threw out 200 copies, since church members were mistaking it for the true Gospel.
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Dionysius (died 176) Bishop of Corinth. He complained that his own letters had been tampered with, and worse yet, the Holy Scriptures also.
Notice how all this contradicts Hort's statement "there are no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic purposes." During the 2nd century, the battle raged between God and Satan over the preservation of the Written Word. Any theory of textual transmission which does not take this into account and seeks to explain the wide divergence between TR and WH readings on the basis of "natural processes" is totally adrift.
Metzger states, "Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Eusebius and many other Church Fathers accused the heretics of corrupting the Scriptures in order to have support for their special views". Burgon Says, "Even the orthodox were capable of changing a reading for dogmatic reasons. Epiphanius states that the Orthodox deleted he wept' from Luke 19 : 41 out of jealousy for the Lord's divinity."
Irenaeus (130 - 200) A western Father. He was born in Asia Minor, and in his youth was a disciple of the aged Polycarp. He laboured for some years in Lyons (Gaul) and became its bishop in 177. He accused heretics of corrupting the Scriptures. His major work "Against Heretics" (c l85) are about equal in volume to those of all his preceding Fathers put together. He quotes the last twelve verses of Mark. He quotes from every N.T. book except Philemon and III John. Thus the dimensions of the Now Testament canon recognized by Irenaeus are very close to what we hold today.
Irenaeus said "The doctrines of the apostles had been handed down by the succession of bishops being guarded and preserved, without any forging of the Scriptures, allowing neither additions nor curtailment.''
He demonstrates his concern for the accuracy of the text by defending the traditional reading of a single letter. The question is whether John wrote 666 or 616 in Rev. 13:19. Irenaeus asserts that 666 is found "in all. the most approved and ancient copies" and that "those men who saw John face to face" bear witness to it. And lie warns ''there shall be no light punishment upon him who either adds or subtracts anything from the Scriptures." Considering Polycarp's friendship with John, his personal copy of Revelation would probably have been taken from the Autograph. And considering Irenaeus' veneration for Polycarp, his personal copy was probably taken from Polycarp's.
Since 1881, the word "vinegar" in Matthew 27:34 has been despised as a "late Byzantine" reading. There are seven early witnesses against it. Irenaeus is one of the eighteen witnesses for it. Contrary to Hort's view, Miller found that Irenaeus sided with the TR 63 times and with the WH 41 times.
Gaius An Orthodox Father who wrote between AD 175 and 200, he names Asclepiades, Theodotus, Hermophilus and Apolomides as heretics who prepared corrupted copies of the Scriptures and had disciples that multiplied these.
Clement of Alexandria (l55 - 220) A leader in the famous Catechetical School. Speaks of his teacher Pantaenus with the greatest praise, "the deepest Gnostic." 'Though a forerunner of Origen and prime developer of the corrupt religious system of the era, yet Millers research shows he quoted more frequently from the TR than the WH, (82 to 72).
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Tertullian (160 - 221) Of Carthage in North Africa. He accused heretics of corrupting the Scriptures in order to gain support for their special views. Distinctive TR quotations can be found in his writings. He says of his right to the NT Scriptures "I hold sure title deeds from the original owners themselves ... I am the heir of the apostles. Just as they carefully prepared their will and testament, and committed to a trust ... even so I hold it. "
Around the year 208, he urged the heretics to - "Run over [to] the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read. Achaia is very near you, in which you find Corinth. Since you are not far from Macedonian you have Philip and the Thessalonians. Since you are able to cross to Asia, you get Ephesus. Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority of the apostle themselves."
It seems that Tertullian is claiming that Pauls Autographs were still being read in his day (208), but at the very least, he must mean they were using, faithful copies.
D. A. Waite states that Tertullian refers to I John 5:7.
Hippolytus (170 - 236) A western Father, active in the Roman church, greatly influenced by Irenaeus. Hort claimed he quoted from an exclusively western text. Miller states that TR readings predominate in his writings. Hoskier says that his Quotations from I Thessalonians 4:13-17 and II Thessalonians 2:1-12 are generally on the side of the TR.
Origen (185 - 254) He is considered by many to be the most profound mind in the history of the church. But in fact it may be said that he had a greater corrupting influence on the early church and on the Bible itself than any man.
Origen was born in Alexandria, Egypt, the cradle of Gnosticism. He and Clement before him were renowned teachers in Alexandria's famous Catechetical School. This school was a center of philosophical and scientific learning as well as theology.
He practiced rigorous asceticism, memorized largo portions of Scripture and wrote commentaries on much of the Bible. Millers Church History states "he sought to gather the fragments of truth scattered throughout the pagan Philosophies and unite them to Christian teachings so as to present the Gospel in a form that would not offend but rather ensure the conversion of Jews, Gnostics and cultivated heathen." Origen said, "Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins." He did not believe in the resurrection of the body. He believed in universalism, that all including demons would eventually be saved. His theology included a kind of reincarnation of the soul..
He was given to wild allegorizing of Scripture, saying - "The Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as written." Though Origen says "there never was a time when the Son was not." His attempts to explain the fathers "begetting" of the Son have somewhat left this issue in doubt. In the famous dispute that arose in Alexandria between Arius and Athanasius (4th century) over the deity of Christ, Origen was called the father of Arianism.
Adam Clarke says he was the first to teach purgatory. A number of the doctrines which later found their way into Romanism have their source in this man. J. H. Newman who was made a Cardinal after he left the Church of England for the Church of Rome said, "I love the name of Origen, I will not listen to the notion that so great a soul was lost." The fact that the Catholic Bibles contain the
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seven additional books known is the Apocrypha may be traced to Origen's inclusion of these books in his own "doctored" Greek manuscripts. This indicates that he placed tradition and Scripture on about the same footing a prime tenant in Roman theology.
Reumann in "The Romance of Bible Scripts and Scholars" says that Origen had a team of scribes whose purpose it was to "correct" the manuscripts (pp S0-56). Westcott refers to his alteration of Mark 6:3. Hills states that he altered Matthew 19:17-21 and Burgon that he altered Luke 2:14. Kilpatrick says, "The creation of new variants ceased about 200 AD because it became impossible to sell them. From the 3rd century onward, even Origen could not effectively alter the text."
Origen himself, referred to the tampering of manuscripts in his day. "Nowadays, as is evident, there is a great diversity between the various manuscripts, either through the negligence of certain copyists, or the perverse audacity shown by some in correcting the text, or through the fault of those, who, playing the part of correctors, lengthen or shorten it as they please."
Hort stated regarding Origen, "His Scripture quotations to the best of our belief exhibit no clear and tangible traces of the TR." However, Edward Miller, in his exhaustive study of the Fathers, found that Origen sided with the TR 460 times and with the WH 491 times. This is a powerful proof that even in Alexandria at this early date, the distinctive readings of the Received Text were almost as common as that of the other.
Hills states - "In the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John (that is, in the area covered by P.66) out of 52 instances in which the TR stands alone, Origen agrees with it 20 times and disagrees with it 32 times. Thus to assertions that Origen knew nothing of the TR becomes difficult indeed to maintain. It is argued that these TR readings are not really Origen's, but represent alterations made by scribes who copied Origen's works to make them conform with the TR. However, a number of these distinctively TR readings in Origen also appear in P66.
Origen spent the later part of his life in Caesarea where his corruptive influence affected later generations, including Eusebius (265 - 340) and Jerome (340 - 420). Newman says, "Palestine, where Origen spent the latter half of his life has always been devoted to his memory and faithful to his teachings."
Wilkinson says, 'When we come to Origen, we speak the name of him who did the most of all to create and give direction to the forces of apostasy down through the centuries ... His corrupted manuscripts of the Scriptures were well arranged and balanced with subtlety. The last one hundred years have seen much of the so-called scholarship of European and English Christianity dominated by the subtle and powerful influence of Origen."
Eusebius (265 - 340) of Caesarea. Known as the Father of Church History cause of his 10 volume "Ecclesiastical History". He was a devoted follower and defender of Origen. Wilkinson says Eusebius worshipped at the alter of Origen's teachings. He claims to have collected 800 of Origen's letters, to have used Origen's six-column Bible, the Hexapla, in his Biblical labors. Assisted by Pamphilus, he restored and preserved Origen's library at Caesarea."
Eusebius sought to reconcile the heretical Arius of Alexandria (denied the eternal existence of Christ) with the orthodox Athanasius at the Nicean Council in 325. He was highly favorable to Constantine; and is we shall see commissioned by the Emperor to produce a version of the Bible based on Origen's manuscripts.
Jerome (340 .- 420) Born in Italy, Jerome later presided over monastic institutions in Bethlehem. He and his wife were earnest students
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of Origen's works. He was the means of powerfully forwarding the cause of celibacy and monasticism, especially among women. In 382, Jerome at the request of Pope Damasus revised the Latin Bible; this new translation became the famous Latin Vulgate.
Wilkinson says, "Jerome was devotedly committed to the textual criticism of Origen, 'an admirer of Origen's critical principles,' as Swete says. To be guided aright in his forthcoming translation, Jerome went to the famous library of Eusebius at Caesarea where the voluminous manuscripts of Origen had been preserved. Among these was a Greek Bible of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus type. It contained the seven books Protestants have rejected as being spurious - Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, First and Second Maccabees. The existence of these books in Origen's Bible is sufficient evidence to reveal that tradition and Scripture were on equal footing in the mind of that theologian. His other doctrines, such as purgatory and transubstantiation had now become as essential to the imperialism of the Papacy as was the teaching that tradition had equal authority with the Scripture."
Thus this "Bible" was designed to give in Latin, the same Romanizing flavor as the "Bible" in Greek sanctioned by Constantine.
Let the reader ponder the above twelve names, for they reveal the titanic struggle that took place between the forces of light and darkness over the text of Scripture during the first three or four centuries of Church history. Its numerical superiority in extant manuscripts shows that the Received text was the decisive winner, and it held its ground for the next fifteen centuries. But now in our century the battle has been renewed and an even more intense conflict ensues with the proliferation of modern versions based on the text of Origan.
Apart from searching through the writings of the Church Fathers individually, a primary source for information his been the massive compilation of John Burgon. He gathered 86,489 patristic Scripture quotations. These are bound in 16 volumes and located at the British Museum. After his death, Edward Miller gathered and edited much of Dr. Burgon's material. He prepared a book entitled. "The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels" (1896). In this work, he undertakes the mammoth task of categorizing the patristic quotations according to its textual type. Oil pp. 99-101 is a table of 76 Church Fathers who died before 400 AD The number of titles each refers to the TR or WH kind of text is tabulated. The overall ratio was three to two in favor of the TR.
Kenyon says the following about Miller's research -
The results of his examination are stated by him is follows. Taking the Greek and Latin (not the Syriac) Fathers who died before AD 400, their quotations are found to support the TR in 2,630 instances (that is the distinctive TR readings), the WH text in 1753. Nor is this majority due solely to the writers who belong to the end of this period. On the contrary, only the earliest writers be taken, from Clement of Rome to Irenaeus and Hippolytus (AD 97 - 236), the majority in favor of the TR is proportionately even greater, 151 to 84. Only in the Western and Alexandrian writers do we find approximate equality of votes on either side. Further, if a select list of- thirty important passages be taken for detailed examination, the preponderance of early preponderance evidence in favor of the TR is seen to be no less than 530 to 170, a quite overwhelming majority."
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Kenyon attempted to refute this evidence by stating that later editors "doctored" the patristic quotations to align them with the TR. See Pickering for a refutation of this totally unworthy objection. If this did occur, a wide variation among different editors of a given Father's quotations should be the norm. Millers research did not find very much variation. Kenyon admitted as much when he said, "the errors arising from this source would hardly affect the general result."
Edward Miller's survey and tabulation is according to Pickering limited to the four Gospels. In this day of the computer, it would be interesting to see a complete tabulation. However, surveys since Miller's time in the remainder of the NT show the same preponderance of support for the TR.
It should also be noted that Miller's tabulations included only those readings which were either accepted as being a part of the TR tradition, or were accepted by Westcott and Hort in their critical text. Variant readings outside of those were not included.
Wilbur Pickering gives the following abbreviated summary:
"TR readings are recognized most notably by - "
100 - l50 AD The Didache, Diognetus, Justin Martyr
150 - 200 AD Gospel of Peter, Athenagorus, Hegesippus, Irenaeus
200 - 250 AD Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Clementines, Hippolytus, Origen
200 - 300 AD Gregory of Thaumaturgus, Novatian, Cyprian, Dionysius of Alexandria, Archelaus
300 - 400 AD Eusebius, Athanasius, Macarius Magnus, Hilary, Didymus, Basil, Titus of Bostra, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nyssa, Apostolic Canons and Constitutions, Epiphanius, Ambrose.
SOME VERY IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER
1. Most tampering of the text took place before 200 and most was done in the Western areas furthest from the location of the original autographs.
Colwell says, "The overwhelming majority of variant readings were created before the year 200." Scrivener says, "The worst corruptions to which the NT his ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it was composed.'' Kilpatrick states, "The creation of new variants ceased by 200 AD because it became impossible to sell them."
Between 18 and 24 of the 27 Now Testament books were written originally to cities in Asia Minor and Greece. None was written to Alexandria. But it was the Western and Alexandrian Fathers who became the most
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prominent and prolific in their writings, and being far from the autographs could take greater liberties and were more susceptible to a corrupted text. Most patristic quotations are from precisely these fathers. Yet even with this disadvantage, the TR has a 3:2 majority. After this period of disruption is passed, textual history shows the TR regaining an overwhelming advantage.
The above is borne out by Miller's research. "The advantage of the TR over the WH before Origen was 2:1, setting aside Justin Martyr, Heracleon, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. If these four are included, the advantage of the TR drops to 1.33:1, since the confusion which is most obvious in Oregon is already observable in these men. From Oregon to Macarius Magnus (early 300's), the advantage drops to 1.24:1 while from Macarius to 400 AD it is back up to 2:1."
2. There is the Scripture principle, that "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." I Cor. 1:27. Regarding the preservation and transmission of the NT Scriptures, it is believed that when all the evidence is in this principle will have been shown to be upheld. In speaking to Dr. Tom Strouse, he felt that John Burgon erred at this point - that it was not primarily through the famous bishops and fathers that the Word was preserved, but rather the humble believer. The priesthood of the believer was the means, not ecclesiastical authority.
A survey of the leading Fathers shows much doctrinal deviation. Consider our own day; is it the famous church leaders who contend for the preservation and purity of God's Word, or humble believers scattered around the world. It his always been, "the common people heard Him gladly. Luther called the Church Fathers, the Church "Babies"!
3. Pre 400 AD patristic citations favor the TR over the WH by a 3:2 margin. But this gives the impression that the WH represents a unified kind of text. It does not! Whereas the TR is reasonably unified, the WH is a hopeless Grouping of conflicting readings. The only thing they have in common is their disagreement with the TR, but conflict among themselves is almost as great. There is only one textual family, the TR. Everything else is confusion.
Thus the main pillar of the Westcott and Hort theory ("Readings characteristic of the Received Text are never found prior to 350") - has completely crumbled in the light of the evidence.
Miller concludes -
"As far as the writers who died before 400 AD are concerned, the question may now be put and answered. Do they witness to the TR as existing from the first, or do they not? The results of the evidence, both as regards the quantity and the quality of the testimony, enable us to reply, not only that the TR was in existence, but that it was predominant, during the period under review. Let anyone who disputes this conclusion make out for the Western Text, or the Alexandrian, or the text of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, a case from the evidence of the Fathers which can equal or surpass that which has now been placed before the reader."
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ASSERTION-"There is no unambiguous evidence that the Byzantine Text-type was known before the middle of the fourth century," D. A. Carson.
|KJV Mark 1:l, 2
|"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ., the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets..." "Mark...does thus commence his Gospel narrative; 'The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as it is written in the prophets,.., Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him...whom they confessed as God and Lord" (Against Heresies III:10:5, 11:4, 16:3).|
|KJV Mark 16:19
|"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." ''Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: so then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God." (Against Heresies III:10:6).|
|KJV Luke 22:44
|"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." "For in the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles and those who followed them, it is recorded that His sweat fell down like drops of blood while He was praying, and saying, 'If it be possible., let this cup pass.'" (Trypho 103:24).|
|KJV Jn 1:18
|"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." "the only begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father ..."(Against Heresies III:11:6), 'the only begotten Son, who..." (IV:20:6) "the only begotten Son, which (IV:20:11).|
|KJV John. 3:l3
|"And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven." (Against the Heresy of One Noetus I:1:4).|
|KJV John 5:3, 4
Tertullian (160- 221)
|"...waiting for the moving of the water, For an angel went down at a certain season unto the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had." "if it seems a novelty for an angel to be present in Waters, an example of what was to come to pass has forerun. An angel, by his intervention, was want to stir the pool at Bethsaida. They who were complaining of ill-health used to watch for him; for whoever had been the first to descend into them, after his washing ceased to complain."(on Baptism I:1:5)|
|KJV Jn. 6:69
|"And we believe and are sure that thou are that Christ the Son of the living God." "By whom also Peter, having been taught, recognized Christ as the Son of the living God..." (Against Heresies III:11:6).|
|KJV John. 14:l7||" ... but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."|
|P66 (c. 200)||" ... shall be in you."|
|KJV Acts 8:36 - 37||" See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."|
|Cyprian (200-258)||"In the Acts of the Apostles: 'Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." (The Treatises of Cyprian I:1:43).|
|KJV I Tim. 3:16||"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh..."|
|Ignatius (35-116)||"God was in the flesh" (To the Ephesians I:1:7).|
|Hippolytus (170-236)||"God was manifested in the flesh" (Against the Heresies of Noetus I:1:17).|
|Dionysius (3rd cent.)||"For God was manifested in the flesh" (Conciliations I:1:853).|
|KJV I John 5:7-8||"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."|
|Cyprian (200-258)||"The Lord says, "I and the Father are one.,' and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and these three are one.'" (The Treatises of Cyprian I:1:6)|
|KJV Rev. 22:14||"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."|
|Tertullian (160-221)||"Blessed are they who act according to the precepts, that they may have power over the tree of life, and over the gates., for entering into the holy city." (On Modesty I:19:2).|
|KJV II Pet. 3:16||"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."|
|Tertullian (160-221)||"Now this heresy of yours does not receive certain Scriptures; and whichever of them it does receive, it perverts by means of additions and diminutions, for the accomplishment of its own purposes." (On Prescriptions Against Heresies I:7:l),|
Thomas M. Strouse., Ph.D.
Maranatha Baptist Graduate School of Theology
Watertown, WI 53094
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Four: A Survey Of The New Testament Documents
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return to Part One: A Survey of Old Testament Documents
return to Part Two: The Issues We Face Regarding the New Testament Text