Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Word Magazine # 50: Review: James White on Text on Apologia.Part 2

Image:  Here is a portion of Revelation 15:3 from the Colinaeus Greek NT (1534) which reads "the King of Saints [ho basileus ton hagion]" (see the final four words of the last line).  This edition does not generally support the TR, yet here it does.  As THL Parker points out in his book "Calvin's NT Commentaries," though Colinaeus printed this work, we do not know for sure who edited it or what mss. he consulted in constructing his text:  "the identity of the present of the editor of the present work is unknown" (p. 99); "we cannot say what manuscripts lie behind the text" (p. 100). 

I just posted Word Magazine # 50 to (listen here).  This episode continues my review of James White's text presentation on Apologia Radio/TV (see the presentation here).

Here are at least three highlights from this episode:

First, I respond to JW's discussion of the textual variant at Revelation 15:3:

Should the text read "King of the nations" (the reading of the Majority text and the modern critical text; supported by Codex Alexandrinus), "King of the ages" (the reading of the earliest extant mss., including p47 and the original hand of Sinaiticus), or "King of Saints" (the reading of the Textus Receptus, supported by mss. 296 and 2049)?  Is it completely irrational to hold that the Textus Receptus provides the proper text at Revelation 15:3?

I offered five observations suggesting that adopting the TR reading here may not be as irrational as JW suggests.  These include:

1.  Though the TR reading is without strong Greek mss. support, it is not without any Greek support (cf. the NA28 which has two conjectural readings with no Greek mss. support:  Acts 16:12 and 2 Peter 3:10).  It is inconsistent of JW to criticize the TR for weak Greek mss. support when he embraces a modern critical text which has at least two place where its preferred reading has no Greek mss. support.

2.  We do not have all the evidence on the mss. used by Erasmus or by other early Reformed men (like Stephanus and Beza).  It most likely had other witnesses now lost..

3.  We have, in truth, very few early Greek mss, with only c. 1% of what we have being from the early centuries.

4.  No one disputes that this was a contested verse.  Clearly, it was.  Even if you reject the TR you have to decide which reading to adopt:  nations or ages.  Which does one choose? By what standard or authority does one make this choice?  

5.  There is also an argument for the TR reading on internal grounds, based on the prevalence of the genitive plural of "saints" in Revelation.  Compare:

The prayers of the saints (5:8; 8:4);

The faith of the saints (13:10);

The patience of the saints (14:12);

The blood of the saints (16:6; 17:6; 18:24);

Righteousness of saints (19:8);

Camp of the saints (20:9).

Second, I challenge to JW's statement that the papyri are purely Alexandrian. This is simply factually wrong.

Third, I challenge to JW's suggestion that having "truth" and "certainty" are necessarily mutually exclusive.

Isn't this the type of argument used by theological liberals to challenge the traditional defense of orthodox doctrines like the deity of Christ or the historicity of the resurrection?

In the next episode, DV, we will move on to the discussion of the Pericope Adulterae.



Victor Leonardo Barbosa said...

Is James White aware of "king of nations" in the Complutensian Polyglott? or even the King james version has the other two readings in margin Seems to me that many times James is using a straw argument rather the confessional reformed position on this issue.
That fact is that we don't know the proper reason that "King of Saints"(that is also found in some patristic quotations) is retained in the King James as standard reading is a mistery (The translators could be followed the other versions -Tyndale, Geneva. or as you said, other manuscripts unknown to us).

God bless you, Jeff!

Pastor Jeff said...


Thanks for the comment.

As I note several times in my reviews, JW repeatedly turns this discussion on the Confessional Text to versions (the KJV) rather than the Greek text (TR).

What he says about the KJV, however, is not always accurate. As noted, he insists the KJV translators had only seven printed editions from which to make their translation. He does not mention the Colinaeus, Complutension, or Aldine editions, nor does he consider the possibility that they directly consulted Greek mss. available to them. You make a good point that they were likely simply following the reading of previous English translations based on the TR.

As for notes in the KJV, I have a facsimile of the 1611 edition and it does not include any text notes at Rev 15:3. I think those were added in later editions, sensitive to criticisms of the reading.

I agree that we do not know exactly why "King of saints" is the reading of the TR (and translations based on it like the KJV).

Thanks again for your comment and blessing! JTR