Textus Receptus Devours Alexandrian Family Found at the Vatican

Often people will ask, what is the best Bible translation to use? Bible and translation seems to have become synonymous but keep in mind that unless you read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic the Bible you read is really a translation of ancient manuscripts that are distant copies of the original autographs. All ancient manuscripts are not equal and all translations of those manuscripts are not equal.

Therefore, in order to know which are the most reliable translations, we first have to know something about the manuscripts that they were translated from. I think I can make some generalizations that may help you decide on a good English translation. I will also get into some other issues about manuscripts that you probably do not know. I am no expert on Bible translations and texts, so if I get something a bit wrong here you might grant me an indulgence.

There basically are only two major families of Greek texts that our Bible translations come from. About 95 percent of the ancient Greek manuscripts are in the Byzantine Family of Greek texts and these are often known as the Majority Text and also by a few other titles.

The Textus Receptus (Received Text) that the “King James Only” believers get so worked up about is based on the work of a Catholic priest named Desideriu Erasmus who reportedly used five late Byzantine manuscripts (of the thousands that exist), one other Greek manuscript, and the Latin Vulgate. This all gets very complicated so let me try to oversimplify it for you.

Some King James only proponents believe that Erasmus knew of most of the Greek manuscripts and that the Holy Spirit guided him to use only the best manuscripts to deliver to us the Greek word of God without error.

It probably is worth noting that Erasmus personally favored his Latin New Testament more than his Greek work. The Greek was actually done as a comparison to the Latin. Nevertheless, his Greek New Testament was better received by the people so he is mainly known for that work. The last part of Revelation was not available in the Greek manuscripts so Erasmus translated this part of Revelation back from the Latin. The Greek New Testament work of Erasmus many years later became what is known as Textus Receptus (Received Text).

King James only people often believe that the King James came directly from the Textus Receptus. That really is not true. The original King James Bible relied heavily on earlier translations like the Geneva Bible and the Tyndale Bible. The instructions to the translators even tells them to follow the texts of earlier Bibles as much as possible. The versions they copied probably used the Textus Receptus but they may not have used it exclusively either. The known facts indicate that only 39 percent of the 1611 King James is original material, the rest was copied from the Geneva, Tyndale, the Vulgate or from some other known source. Ninety percent of the King James New Testament follows the earlier Tyndale New Testament word for word.

The King James was published by British scholars in 1611 who did not even have access to any Greek manuscripts before 1628.  As new Greek information came to light the King James version was changed. That is most likely the reason why there were about 150 revisions in a very short period. All versions used by the Protestant reformers used mostly the Textus Receptus directly or indirectly in their Bibles but the King James version obviously is not an uniquely inspired English translation.

The logical way of finding out what God said in the original autographs is to look at all the ancient texts and use the ones that are most in agreement with each other and what is known from other sources. In addition to early text manuscripts there were early translations, and citations of scripture by the early fathers. There are about 86,000 such citations before the year 325 AD.

Having said all that, the differences between what is called the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus are rather minor. They are in close agreement. Since there are not many major disagreements between the Majority Text and Textus Receptus they are often used as if they were synonymous. Most modern Bible translations that say they favor the Textus Receptus or the Majority Text actually consider both.

The other family of texts  are most often called the Alexandrian family of texts, Critical Text, or Minority Text, they make up less than 5 percent of ancient Greek scripture manuscripts. However, the Alexandrian manuscripts have quite a few differences with the Majority Text and have so much disagreement with each other that they hardly should be called a family at all, unless you want to call them a dysfunctional family. The two major manuscripts are the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus but there are about 3000 differences between the manuscripts in the four gospels alone.

Most of our modern translations have favored these two Alexandrian manuscripts because they are believed to be the oldest Bible manuscripts. Text scholars tend to think the closer to the original autographs that the texts are, the less time there was to introduce error. However, even if these are the oldest existing Greek manuscripts, there are older translations of the Bible, and there are the citations of the New Testament from the writings of the early Church fathers. The Church before 350 AD agrees more with the Majority Text than the Alexandrian manuscripts.

Codex Vaticanus was found in the Vatican Library in 1481 and is said to date back to the 4th century. (I guess nobody wanted to read it for that thousand years and that is why it was found in such good shape.) The Vaticanus conveniently omits whole sections of the scripture that might shed a negative light on the Vatican. It has insertions, omissions, and amendments throughout the Codex. One scholar said, “in the gospels alone the Vaticanus leaves out 237 words, 452 clauses and 748 whole sentences”. The Vaticanus also has more grammar mistakes and misspellings than any other Bible manuscript. The Codex seems to have been totally edited in the 15th century and maybe that accounts for why this Codex removes scriptures that would contradict Roman Catholic theology.

Codex Sinaiticus was found in the trash in a Catholic monastery in 1844 according to most reports. Sinaiticus also is said to date back to the 4th century. Sinaiticus has recently been put on the Internet and some are now claiming that it is the oldest Bible. Some are saying that the version that you use in your church is not the original Bible. They are really using an inferior text manuscript to try to discredit the Textus Receptus or Majority Text Bible versions. By the way, the Sinaiticus was not a complete Bible, half of the Old Testament is missing and it adds two books that are in nobody’s Canon.

In reality, the Sinaiticus was not the Bible that was being used in the 4th Century either. Most Christians in the 4th century were using a universal text that generally agrees with the Majority Text. There are about 23,000 errors in the Sinaiticus. The Sinaiticus is said to have been gone over by 10 different scribes and the whole manuscript is very carelessly written.

There are different theories as to why these two major Alexandrian manuscripts are so corrupted. One theory is that there was a universal text being used by Christians and this text was brought down to Alexandria Egypt where unbelieving scribes did not have the necessary skills or do due diligence in their copying. They may have even changed or omitted scriptures that they did not like. Others say that the teaching of Origen had influenced the scribes. Still others say that some kind of chicanery was going on over the centuries through the Roman Catholic Church.

Chris Pintos of Noise of Thunder, in his documentary, “Tares Among the Wheat” presents a thesis that the Sinaiticus may have been a later forgery and not a 4th century text at all. I believe his theory is that the Sinaiticus forgery was created at some point in the medieval era. Then later the Jesuits got hold of this forgery full of errors and used it to try to muck up the inerrancy waters and discredit the Protestant claim of Sola Scriptura. Others are disputing the forgery claim of Pintos, you can follow that debate on his site.

It is interesting that the early Protestant reformers rejected the Alexandrian manuscripts in their Bibles but the Vatican embraces them. These Minority Texts are also used in Jesuit infiltrated and influenced academia for higher criticism purposes to discredit the claim that scripture is actually the inerrant word of God. Keep in mind that Sola Scriptura wars against the claims of the Roman Catholic Church and Sola Scriptura has been condemned by the Roman Church. The Roman Catholic Church claims that only Rome is the rule of faith.

The manuscripts that are used for translation is one major issue with modern translations. The other major issue is all the paraphrasing that they use for various reasons today. Some “Bibles” out there are more the theology of the author than a good translation. Before you buy a Bible, read the preface and make sure they favor the Majority Text or Textus Receptus and that it uses Complete Equivalence in translation rather than Dynamic Equivalence which commonly results in paraphrases. Also, keep in mind that some “Bibles” like The Message are really pure paraphrases of the Bible and do not even claim to be the Bible.

If your Bible is “The New American Standard”, you might like to know that it gives more weight to the earlier Minority Texts than the Majority Text, but you don’t need to throw the Bible away either. Most of the major modern translations review all the text manuscripts and they should footnote when there is a difference between the manuscripts. They all get the essential doctrines of the faith correct. Just don’t quote poor paraphrases like “The Message” and call it God’s word. I use the King James and New King James. They are excellent translations based mostly on the Majority or Received Text.

Some say the scriptures that we have are reliable because there is total agreement in 85 percent of all the texts. That is true, but I say horse pucky. That means there is 15 percent of the texts that some will claim are questionable. The inerrancy critics love to flaunt any differences. One way to solve this is to demote the corrupted Alexandrian Minority Texts and then there would be much more agreement. The major problem is not really the differences between the text families, those differences do not change any major doctrines. The major problem is that the differences opened the door to liberal higher criticism that attacks the position of Bible inerrancy.

I think it was all too convenient that these two major Alexandrian texts that war against the doctrine of Sola Scriptura somehow became prominent in the mid 19th century near the very same time that the Jesuits and atheistic philosophers took over academia. Yes, this all seems to be happening on schedule for the Harlot’s Sola Ecclesia Romamus, Un solo mundo, una sola familia (only the church of Rome is the rule of faith, one world, one family) coming out party. And yes, religious leaders from all over the world will take part in the soon to be announced Queen’s pride parade that most certainly will have a Queen of Heaven float with altar boys throwing Papal indulgences for sin out to the pagans.

Print Friendly

 Don Koenig founded www.thepropheticyears.com website in 1999 after almost thirty years of independent study on the Bible and learning from many astute teachers within Christendom. Don created his website to write about Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and his Christian worldviews. Don wrote a free Revelation commentary ebook in 2004 named "The Revelation of Jesus Christ Through The Ages". The World and Church and Bible Prophecy section of this website was started in 2007.


28 thoughts on “Textus Receptus Devours Alexandrian Family Found at the Vatican

  1. Nathan

    Sure, it is problematic. Its about as close as a paraphrase edition that you can get without calling it a paraphrase. It also tries to be politically correct which the Bible is not. Many people and whole denominations are now dumping the NIV.

  2. Hi Don. Very informative. I’ve read several articles on the history of bible translations then I forget the details so I can’t explain it to any one. This will be a good reference.

    There have been many editions of the bible, as you said, translated from bibles already in use. I hope you enjoy these that had misprints.

    The Bugg Bible-1535. Psalm 91:5. Thou shalt not nede to be afraid for anye bugs by nyghte. [Coverdale, Taverners, & Matthew’s Bibles.]

    Wife Beater’s Bible-1549. [A note in 1 Peter 3:2] And yf she be not obedient and helpful unto hym, endeavoreth to beate the feare of God into her heade. [Daye & Seres’s edition of the Matthews Bible.]

    Vinegar Bible-1716/17. John Basketts’ folio edition of KJV misprints page heading over Luke 20 as “The Parable of the Vinegar.” [Vineyard]

    On a more serious note I might add that no protestant bible was printed in England during the reign of Bloody Mary. [Queen Mary] 1553-1558.
    The last “Great Bible” ever printed was in 1569 by John Cawood. [pronounced Caywood] He was my ancestor.

  3. Don, I know there is lots of criticism of the 2011 niv, but what about the 1984 edition? Would you say that is still problematic? I use the 1984 niv and the NASB

  4. love this thread. I hope it encourages careful bible scholarship and discernment.What might be most profound, to me, is the agreement between what Jesus said and what each apostle says in his text.I often wonder if folks who claim the Bible is full of fallacies have even read it!I currently have a King James and a Lamsa translation from the Aramaic.And whenever you have a question there is the Bible Gateway? online that will show you about 20 different versions.

    I keep waiting for the mass exodus from the Catholic churches…not happening. I read my stepfather’s “catholic bible” and the apocrypha? was just confusing to me. as a teenager.i tried to take bible as literature in college and every question was meant with a diatribe from the professor about the stupidity of believing in anything,,new or old testament.had to quit. the Jewish history courses were much better they even had maps showing where the Israelites were during those 40 years and why it was such a slow process to enter Canaan ( so many tribes to avoid)they have facts to back up their history! but no such luck on the New Testament, is is fair game for anything.

    the Message isn’t the only claptrap re-imagining. there was ” A Return to Love” where three people “channeled” what the Bible meant. i read about one page and almost threw up. literally. a lot of my friends were into it though.

    Another biggie in the New Age is the I AM. you just chant that to yourself to incorporate the “christ consciousness.” talk about blaspheming the Holy Name!

    thank you Don for showing us more about the texts used too make our Bibles.Truly we need leaders on our churches to keep us on the straight and narrow in the last years..


  5. Hi Jen,

    People should know here that I really have no intention of rating all the various Bible versions out there since 99 percent of them I have not studied. That is why I recommend that people read the preface to see how it was translated. I do believe the earlier additions of the NIV where not yet into the politically correct game. I did read the NIV cover to cover a long time ago. It seems okay for new Christians but for serious students I recommend a Complete Equivalence version which your NASB is, although I would prefer the NKJV. The NIV is a Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought) translation and has a lot of paraphrasing. It probably is helpful for some to read both a Complete Equivalence and a Dynamic Equivalence version and that is where a parallel Bible comes in handy.

  6. Hey Don,
    I have always used the KJV to study up to this point. Having that said I spend a lot of time in my car for work so I use an app on my phone that reads the bible to me every where I go. I just completed the audio of the KJV and started the NIV. The other versions available in audio are HCSB ASV DRA ESV LEB NLT and WEB. If the NIV is not the best for Bible study is there any on the list that you would recommend or should I just stick with King James

  7. Ryan,

    I have that app, in fact, many millions of people have downloaded what is called the Bible app. Some people use it in church. Like I said in my reply to Faith, I have no intention of rating the many Bible translations. You guys can do your own research on Google on any of the ones that you have available or that you might want to get. Most Evangelicals that have been studying the Bible for a few decades or are listening to their teachers in church are familiar with the wording of the KJV, so you might want to stay with the audio on that so when you discuss scripture with other Christians it will be in words that they will recognize. Listening to audios might help you learn the scriptures but it hardly allows for any real Bible study.

  8. Thanks Don,

    I agree that listening to the app while driving is not real Bible study. Having that said I do consider it a blessing for me. I am early in my Bible study so hearing Proper pronunciation of scripture has made reading the Bible later much easier I used to just skip old testament genealogy because it was a struggle and if I have trouble understanding a particular Verse or chapter while reading it listening to it helps me. Lastly and most importantly It replaced talk radio which is ok in moderation but I spent a lot of time in the car and had become a destroyer of my joy. I think I’m going back to KJV I’m still early in study but a paraphrased version is not for me either

  9. Being topical…

    It must be in the Homa Ecclesia Romamus translation where they tell the Catholics to lighten up about all that abortion / homosexuality stuff.

    As we all know (‘er, some know), the Pope doesn’t speak for God. Only the true saints are Christ’s ambassadors. Jesus spoke more often on the subject of the fire than paradise. Frankly, I tend to follow His lead, particularly with regard to the coming prophecy(ies).

    I haven’t taken a gander at the liberal translations, other than NIV (pre 2k), but it does make me wonder how they plan to rewrite Romans 1 thru 2 and Deuteronomy, particularly various afforementioned topics.

  10. Loved this article. This is so timely. Chris Pinto’s previous documentary delving into the matter of how God preserved his Word throughout time, A Lamp In the Dark, is definitely worth watching. I agree with you about the NIV. And I want to add that it’s interesting to see how persecution and suffering were frequently linked with preservation and translation. Praise the Lord he promises us in so many places in Scripture that he will preserve His word, every jot and every tittle. This issue is controversial but I’m glad thoughtful people are not avoiding it!(Satan began his attack on God’s word in Genesis 3; why should we think he’s still not at it?)

  11. Dr David Hocking has a good you tube video titled: Which Bible is Best. It runs about 53 minutes (the 2013 video is a repeat of a 2010 video). One can search using: which bible is best, David Hocking.

    It is a good complement to Don’s excellent article and further explains weaknesses in the minority texts.

  12. You know sometimes things seem to happen at just the right time. I’ve been praying and fellow shipping with a coworker who was raised in the church. He has and is walking a spiritual battle. Latest thing now is that the Bible was altered from its original text. Reincarnation was taken out, it was dumb ed down for the lowest denominator and basically full of incorrect information. Placing your souls eternal existent on what you read on the internet makes me shake my head. (speaking in relation to reincarnation)

    So I found an interesting debate on the Bible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRQ9WaxEjvc which is broken into nine parts. It was a little difficult to listen and watch the entire debate but I knew that I must stand my ground in my belief. What really hit me hard while watching this was the discredit of the Bible.

    On January 10, 1963 congressman Albert Herlong read before the house 45 goals of the communist party. Mr. Bart D. Ehrman is surely one who can get the non believers and maybe some of the believers to discredit the bible. ( http://www.communistgoals.com/goals/goals.htm)

    So upon arrival of you blog today, you can see how I find it very interesting and some what important. Your comment on the NIV, how churches are dumping it. Do you have any links on your research for that? I prefer the NIV as KJV really confuse me to read. Dyslexia is bad enough, KJV just makes me go banana’s :)
    ~God Bless

  13. Tram, Have you tried the New King James? It’s a much easier read than the KJV. I switched to it about two years ago and a close friend just told me this week that she got the NKJ after struggling with the old. She said now she can understand what she’s reading. It’s worth a try.

  14. TheTram,

    The Southern Baptists churches dumped the NIV years ago. They developed their own easy reading translation that is much more of a Complete Equivalence translation than the NIV. You’re also not going to find a NIV Bible anymore in most Bible churches that take doctrine seriously.

    There are a number of Complete Equivalence easy reading English versions available if that is what concerns you. But, research the translations yourself.

    I really do not appreciate links to sites that are discrediting the Bible unless there are also distinguish Bible believing Christians disputing the arguments as well. I left them up because no nominal Christian reading these comments are going to follow your links anyway.

  15. I go (went, that is) to a Bible Church here in Fort Worth. They have started falling away and show all the signs of becoming “seeker sensitive”. And they give away the 2011 NIV. They are also doing other stuff that is vey questionable.

    Looking for another Church. It’s hard. Most follow the same format of weak teaching and civic minded “community groups”. I don’t want to pick up trash for the city, I just want to learn the Bible when I go to Church!

    I just became aware fo the Bible version issue. I use the Pure Cambridge Versino and cross check with the Textus Receptus.

  16. I acquired a copy of the King James Bible Defined last year. It is simply the text of the KJV with the more archaic words defined at the bottom of the page. It’s easy to use. It also explains why the translators of the KJV chose to keep Ye and You and Thee and Thou. These words were already obsolete in their day as evidenced by the Preface to the Reader and the Dedication to King James. New Versions coming out every few months ought to be a real concern to all believers. These Bibles are copyrighted. In order for a work to be copyrighted it needs to be substantially different from any previous publication. Hence the frequent changes we keep seeing, especially the paraphrasing. (This shouldn’t be confused with faithful Bibles which have a copyright- usually because of the notes and detailed articles added).

  17. Thank you Don
    The YouTube video is showing the debate held at a church conference with many upstanding Christians. But I understand your concern and will follow your wishes.

  18. Hi TheTram,

    I did not watch it. I have no intentions of watching a 7 part Youtube debating the Bible that probably will cast doubts in the minds of some. I do have to wonder about the leaders of the church that would hold such a conference unless it actually was held to do the opposite. The Bible has no need to appease the skeptics and their “higher criticisms”. The fulfillment of scripture by Jesus, the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament, the martyrs for Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in our lives is all the proof that we need to believe it.

  19. let me add, that many in the Church think the church services are the place for Christians to convince unbelievers to believe. It is quite the opposite, the Church is for believers. If Christians really want to convert non believers, they ought to go out into the world.

  20. EXACTY!

    My Church that I went to since 1984 went from really good teaching to weak “seeker” type stuff. The wanted everyone to do an online program. They called it “having a conversation with God”. The program is based out of Plano and is called “LifeSigns”. They guy behind it is a marketing expert. They also admitted to using the program to build a “profile” of the Church. Then they launched a “app” for android and iPhone so that it went off like an alarm clock every 60 minutes to remind you to think of God! They are launching a “parenting app” to help you raise your kids. In the “community groups” they didn’t just keep track of how many went, but specific names of who attended each week. They gathered this information without consent.

    What ever happened to reading the Bible and praying for wisdom and discernment? Too old fashioned, I guess.

  21. I second the notion that meeting together (‘er, [not exactly] Church) is for believers.

    As for the skeptics, it could be my observation but it seems as if their attacks are with increasing anxious fervor, which I find rather hypocritical since they speak evolution / global-warming / millions-billions-of-years out of the other side of their mouths. If they really “believed” in evolution / globalWarming (a carefully protected state “religion”), then they shouldn’t be in any hurry to discredit truth.

    However, the anxiousness of the skeptics shows that they are unable to ignore these prophetic years they so desire to scoff at.

  22. Thank you Don. My sister and her husband are increasingly becoming KJ only fanatics. Not sure where this comes from but it always raises my eyebrows??? (I use the KJ myself).

    In the end, I believe God can, does, and has protected His Word and can use any Bible to save a human being. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of horrible translations out there!!!!

    Just saying, it is remarkable that God can and does preserve HIS WORD.

  23. Craig, the ‘increasing anxious fervor’ of the anti Christ, anti Jewish, anti God segment of our societies is I believe a forerunner to Satan’s own fear when he is removed from Heaven and knows his days are numbered.

    It make one wonder if fear is a motivating factor in the breast of a roaring devouring lion. I think possibly it is.

  24. Don, Using a public library so I’m not certain this will send. Very nice, concise history. Math problem with percentages, though. If 90% of the KJV is from the Tyndale (or Coverdale from my memory) 39% could not be original. Also, how would you ATTEMPT to reconcile the two versions of Judas’ monetary transaction and his death? If he bought a field a stumbled bursting his bowels out he could not have thrown the money back into the Temple and then hung himself. If the Pharisees bought the field after rejecting the money, these are fairly significant details to leave out. And I do not buy the ‘theory’ or rather contortion that after he hung himself, the rope broke and he tripped down a steep ravine. We are not to worship the words… but the Word it points to. Y’shua ha Messiah!

  25. Paul,

    In this article, I said 90 percent of the KJV New Testament was copied word for word from the Tyndale. I did not say that 90 percent of the whole King James Bible was. So there is nothing wrong with my math, 39 percent of the whole KJV is original material.

    All the versions I am looking at are quite consistent that Judas gave the money back and then hanged himself. Judas did not buy the field, the chief priests did with the money he returned because it was not lawful for them to put it in the treasury.

    I don’t see a problem with Judas hanging himself on a branch of a tree that overlooked a ravine and then his weight broke the branch and he went feet first down the slope to the rocks below stumbling until he smashed into a rock that make his guts burst out. If you ever slid down a very steep slope it would not be so difficult to accept. I could have killed myself more than once by a stumble on a steep slope that would have sent me on the way to the rocks below.

  26. There shouldn’t be any discussion. The KJV is perfect. It has 1 John 5:7, it has the blood of Jesus not deleted from various places. If there is no perfect Bible in existence, then the whole discussion is pointless.

  27. Abe,

    No disrespect meant, but that is an ignorant statement. There are no perfect translations of the Bible. The KJV is a very good old English translation. Discussion on which Bibles use the most reliable manuscripts is not a pointless discussion.

    One cannot blindly teach that the KJV is flawless because you were told that and want to believe it. That is why some Christians have very little credibility with text scholars, that know better.

Comments are closed.