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Manuscript evidence – Antioch vs Alexandria

kjv only vs best ancient manuscripts papyri

Critics attack the manuscript evidence for the King James Bible. They love to falsely accuse the King James Bible of not having sufficient evidence to support its credibility as the true Word of God. They believe it is a flawed translation in light of modern biblical manuscripts. But this is not true. 

The manuscript evidence of the KJV is overwhelming compared to other Bibles. The scholars are approaching it with a flawed mindset. We are going to look at how this is the case. 

90% of manuscripts agree with the KJV

The KJV has 90% of biblical evidence pointing towards it. If we are going to be fair, the LOWEST number attributed to the King James Bible is 80%. Modern Bibles have only 1% of biblical manuscripts supporting them. So, how could the detractors possibly claim that modern Bibles have better manuscript evidence than the King James Bible? We’ll look at their mindset and see clearly why it is false. 

Dr Floyd Nolan Jones (Paleontologist and geophysicist) says “Despite all the variations, nearly all the of the words of the New Testament enjoy over 99% attestation, about 2% have less than 95% support and fewer than 1% of the words have less than 80% and most of these differ only slightly.”

Wilbur Pickering who got his Masters in Greek exegenesis from Dallas Theological Seminary and PhD in linguistics from the University of Toronto, also agreed on this. “One may reasonably speak of the 90% of the extent manuscripts belonging to the majority text type. The remaining 10 to 20% do not represent a single competing form. The minority manuscripts disagree as much or more among themselves as they do with the majority.”

The critics attack the KJV, claiming Erasmus started it and that it was a hurried process with only a few manuscripts. They argue that modern Bibles are better because we have more manuscripts today. It sounds good when you put it that way, but those educated in rhetoric can make anything sound right. When one digs in and looks at the new manuscript evidence over the year, they also point to the credibility of the King James Version and NOT the modern Bibles!

The five uncials (New Testament) support KJV

The new manuscripts are testaments to the accuracy of the KJV. Let’s look at what is known as the five uncials. The five uncials are some of the oldest and most famous manuscripts. These are ancient sources, and they support the King James Version by a large majority.

  • 2 to 1 from the four Gospels to Acts
  • 10 to 7 from Romans to Jude

The finding and study of such manuscripts only go to prove further the King James (Authorized Version) purity, not the other way around. 

Old manuscripts still support KJV (Authorized Version)

There is another ancient manuscript (2nd century) is known as “Old Latin” which has 2,344 traditional text vs 1,252 in Sinaitus and Vaticanus. There is also the “Peshitta,” another 2nd-century manuscript that lends complete credibility to the KJV. 237 for KJV and 74 for NIV which is the representation of modern Bibles.

The United Bible Society (critics of the KJV) also reports evidence that the church fathers’ manuscripts are true to the KJV text. In their report, 969 traditional text of KJV to 733 of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

Berger and Miller (Bible scholars) also say that there 2,627 text in support of traditional text of KJV, vs 1,745 for Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

Scholars and Eclectic Text

There are so many pieces of evidence to support the KJV by now. Scholarly thinking says the eclectic text (also called the critical text) is better because it contains shorter verses. That’s why there are shorter verses in the NIV! There are missing verses in many modern Bibles, including the ESV. 

Why would they want shorter verses?

Let’s look at an example. Half of Mark 16 is chopped off in the Alexandrian manuscripts. They automatically assume that additional verses were added later. They believe the shorter verses are closer to the original. When they work in this way, they are translating merely on assumption. Even though they claim such advanced knowledge, they don’t know that those verses weren’t original. But based on their human systems and human knowledge that make them so proud, they feel the right to take away verse out of God’s Word, which is NOT ok. They are relying on human wisdom and not that of God. 

The traditional text (KJV) is closer to the later manuscripts, the Alexandrian to the older. Eclectic text is the text where many modern Bible comes from. It is Also known as critical text and Alexandrian manuscripts. This knowledge will be important in our conversation going forward.

2 Corinthians 2:17: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

Corruption of the Bible was very common, even in the time of the Apostle Paul! It’s common knowledge that there were changes and additional books added to the Bible in ancient times. Why then do the scholars advocate the assumption that the older manuscripts are the most accurate and pure?

Revelation 22:19: “And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” 

God warned about people taking words out of His book. This work that the scholars do so carelessly has serious consequences. People who believe they know the Bible so well ignore a plan and clear warning from God Himself right within the Scriptures!

Dean Bergen (Oxford scholar and Dean of Chichester) quotes this: “It can per force only be divined from their contents that they exhibit fabricated text. No amount of honest copying persevered in for any number of centuries could by possibility resulted in such documents. Separated from one another in an actual date, by fifty perhaps by a hundred years, they must have branched off from a common corrupt ancestor and straightway become exposed continuously to fresh, deprave influences. ” The thing about these Alexandrian manuscripts (Sinaticus and Vaticanus) is that there are pen knife markings as well as annotations/writings all over. It was clear that people tampered with these manuscripts.

Dr. Edward F. Hills who worked on New Testament texts criticism at Harvard says, “Thus we see that there is no convincing reason for regarding either the Western text or the Alexandrian text as a true New Testament text. On the contrary, there are many grounds for believing that both these texts have been seriously corrupted by the scribes. The Western text being usually characterized by editions and the Alexandrian by omissions.”

Origen, a church father and someone who worked on Alexandrian manuscripts, stated, “The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others. They either neglect to check over what they have transcribed or in the process of transcribing, they lengthen or shorten as they please.” (Text of the New Testament, 151-152). This quote is further proof that there was a lot of corruption in transcribing manuscripts going on in Alexandria. This corruption is what brought about the eclectic text that most modern Bibles are based on.

Kurt Aland, a leading New Testament critic and an editor in the eclectic text quotes, “In the early period, there were several recessions of the text at the beginning of the fourth-century scholars at Alexandria and elsewhere. Took as many good manuscripts as were available and applied their philosophical methods to compile a new uniform text.

Dr. Edward F. Hills again says: “In this commentary, Origen, the leading Christian critic of antiquity gives us an insight into the arbitrary and highly subjective manner in which New Testament textual criticism was carried on at Alexandria about 230 AD.”
Matthew 19:20-21:Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Jesus says to this young man, “If you are good/perfect, keep all these commandments” and obviously this young man wasn’t perfect. However, how Origen edited the Bible became very apparent. He chopped out the second half of verse 19, which was subjective and arbitrary.

Is that the kind of Bible a Christian wants to build their faith on?

All of this shows that it takes more blind faith to believe in modern manuscripts than it does to believe in the accuracy of the KJV. The scholars automatically assume that the Alexandrian text is without corruption, which is not correct.

What do the ancient manuscripts, called Papyri say about the KJV?

The most ancient manuscripts are called Papyri. They were made from watergrass in Egypt. Because of how they were prepared, they lasted a long time. Just because of their age alone, scholars assume they are the most accurate version of the text. These manuscripts are much older than the manuscripts used for the KJV.

Can we trust Egypt?

But where did the Papyri come from? The Christian church? No! Critical scholars in Egypt! Do you trust them with maintaining the accuracy of the Bible?

Even the textual scholars criticize Sinaiticus and Vaticanus

Origen was the textual scholar at that time, “The differences between the manuscripts have become great either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others. They even neglected to check over what they transcribed or in the process of checking, they lengthen or shorten as they please.”

Dean Bergen said, “Those four are what are discovered on careful scrutiny to differ essentially not only from the 99 out of 100 of the whole body of manuscripts but even from one another.”

Papyri 75 is used for most modern Bibles. It is the oldest and most famous. It is often a source of justification for many advocates of modern Bibles. But even when you look past the flagrant changes and corruption of the scholars behind it in Alexandria, this manuscript still supports the legitimacy of the KJV almost three to one!

The Bible says Preservation of His word is not on grass (papyri)

All in all, we must be wary of the modern Bibles based on the corruptions and agenda of the Alexandrian scholars. God has even warned us of it in His word. 

Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” 

God’s Word does not depend on grass! God Himself said told us this. Another note about grass (which withers and God’s word endures forever is made in the following passage.

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

For those who still insist to argue that the age of the papyrus proves the legitimacy of modern Bibles, here are some hard numbers relating to Papyrus 45, 66, and 75 (some of the most famous fragments) to show the overwhelming support they still show for the King James Bible.

Traditional Text

Modern Versions (A+B, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus)

P45=33P45(B)=25
P66=38P66(A)=16
P75=33P75(A)=11

Hands down, the King James Bible has the best evidence when one combines the papyri.

Matthew 26:22:And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”

In the video at 14:00, the Pastor explains the Greek word in the above text, which has been translated correctly in the KJV, but not so in the critical text.

It is plain and clear to see. Anyone saying otherwise is simply trying to use rhetoric to skew your perception. But I implore you to dig into the evidence yourself! You will find the incredible truth that God has already given us His perfect Word and has preserved it and kept it pure throughout the generations. 

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