Yesterday’s Dividing Line was eye-opening. Not only does Matthew 2:16 have gender problems, but so does Luke 2:22, it turns out. Except Luke’s situation is worse because the problem is not in the translation but in the underlying Greek in the Textus Receptas.
The number of places where the KJV is imprecise or downright inaccurate is stunning when you put it all together. It’s an avalanche caused by individual snowflakes.1
In this DL, James White brings the same challenge that he offers again and again to the TR-onlyists: demonstrate a consistent method of textual criticism that would reproduce the TR. In objection to this challenge, some people reference the continued changes to the Nestle-Aland edition and its translations. They say, “Modern scholars can’t produce a consistent methodology for textual criticism either, as demonstrated by the changes they keep making to their text.” This is an ill-found accusation for a few reasons:
- Modern textual critics are willing to change things when the evidence and understanding of that evidence matures and nuances. The TR-only advocates haven’t demonstrated a good-faith effort and willingness to do likewise. They sometimes talk about it but nothing is ever actually done. No one dares do it because the backlash would be great and the changes would be rejected by the majority of fellow TR-onlyists, betraying the ecclesiological traditionalism that is deep-rooted in the overall TR-only movement.
- The number and severity of the discrepancies in the implementation of textual criticism for a print edition is vastly greater with the TR than with any modern Nestle-Aland edition. It’s difficult for me to conceive of anyone disputing this point. When you look at the changes that are happening today, there is invariably compelling evidence for both the replaced reading and the new reading.2 In contrast, if we were to make a list of the top 100 places in which the TR most desperately needs changing, there would be very little or no support whatsoever to support the way it currently is, given the 100x increase in manuscript evidence we now have compared to what the Catholic scholars had in the 16th century.
It’s false equivalence to claim that both schools of thought are guilty of inconsistency in their method of textual criticism. The Nestle-Aland edition is making an increasingly tight pattern around the bull’s eye. The Textus Receptas sometimes doesn’t even make the target.
- I can hear someone object, “But the modern Bibles have major portions missing, so all of these imprecisions and blunders in the KJV are still better than that.” Even if one were to concede that these “missing” portions should be there, the response is simple: any modern Bible has these portions in it. They’re just in brackets. They might ought to be there. The printers allow for that. The level of certainty there is less than the level of certainty that the KJV got Luke 2:22’s gender wrong. The more I study this, the more it becomes shockingly clear that there’s simply no excuse to keep using the KJV as one’s main Bible. ↩︎
- As far as translations are concerned in this regard, we’re admittedly hitting a snag with the NASB 2020 release. Whether that becomes a long-term trend or not will be interesting to watch. But either way, my case still stands with the underlying Greek from which the NASB 2020 release is derived. ↩︎