Sunday, April 1, 2012

Textus Receptus vs.
Westcott and Hort text /

Το Παραδεδεγμένο Κείμενο
κατά του κειμένου των Γουέστκοτ & Χορτ

In brief, the proponents of the Majority text argue that Westcott and Hort’s text-critical theories and methods were wrong, and that their false views have misled other textual critics for a century. The ‘Neutral’ text preferred by them, far from being a very pure representative of a very ancient text, is actually a late corrupt form of text influenced by heretical doctrines and poor scholarship. The way to correct this 100-year-old error is to return to the Majority text. Not only does a huge preponderance of extant manuscripts support this text-type but, it is claimed, the Majority text is closer to the original and is doctrinally superior.

While the basic position of the Majority text advocates is similar, the arguments brought to bear in support of that position vary considerably, and it is necessary to distinguish two groups. There are elements of continuity between them, but the differences are sufficiently great so as to require separate treatment.

Prominent among the first group, which defends the TR [Textus Receptus], are Terence Brown, David Otis Fuller, J. J. Ray, and E. F. Hills. In contrast to Burgon, their champion, who was a scholar and indefatigable textual critic whose writings were based on tiresome work on original manuscripts, most of these men betray little if any first-hand acquaintance with either the materials of textual criticism or any of the scholarly literature of the last fifty years. Their writings largely consist of reprints of or extracts from earlier writers, especially Burgon, who are quoted as if every line they ever wrote were true. Their attacks on the theories of Westcott and Hort consist primarily of ad hominem accusations (they are variously called papists, Arians, Origenists, rationalists, and naturalists) and leading questions left unanswered. The points adduced in favour of the TR are theological rather than historical and are related to an extreme form of the doctrine of divine preservation. Fuller, for example, claims that those ‘who believe in the Verbal, Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures... of necessity must believe in the Providential Preservation of the Scriptures through the centuries’; further, says Hills, the ‘consistently orthodox Christian’ must believe ‘that it was through the usage of the Church that Christ has fulfilled His promise always to preserve the true New Testament text, and that therefore the Byzantine Text found in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts is the true text’.

In other words, the Greek Orthodox church is identified as the ‘channel through which the Scriptures were preserved. No arguments or historical evidence are offered in support of this view; it is simply asserted that this is how it happened. Moreover, to believe otherwise, it is implied, is tantamount to holding to a low view of Scripture.

It is not to be inferred that these men are idiots or scoundrels; their motives appear to be sincere. Unfortunately, as one writer has observed, an understandable but wrongly-directed zeal for the KJV and the Greek text it represents has made them careless with regard to facts, and ignorance has too frequently resulted in the substitution of invective and special pleading for reasoned argument.

* Michael W. Holmes,
The ‘Majority Text Debate’: New Form of an Old Issue”,
Themelios 8.2 (January 1983): 13-19.
[English/Αγγλικά, PDF]

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