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Those who want to take a neutral position on the issue of Bible texts and versions often claim that the current defense of the King James Bible and its underlying Greek Received Text is an unnecessarily divisive, near-cultic position that has no historical precedent among fundamentalists and other strong Bible believers. This is historic revisionism of the worst sort. The fact is that only recently have professing fundamentalists begun using and defending the modern versions. Though some fundamentalist leaders might have had their “fingers crossed” when they spoke of the King James Bible as the preserved Word of God in English, multitudes of others believed it was exactly that and believed it without equivocation. And thousands of strong Bible believers during the past two centuries have defended the Greek Received Text as the preserved Word of God and have condemned modern textual criticism as heresy. This is not a new and obscure position that was devised only a few decades ago by a Seventh-day Adventist or by Peter Ruckman, as some would have us believe!
In the book FROM THE MIND OF GOD TO THE MIND OF MAN: A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO HOW WE GOT OUR BIBLE (1999, Ambassador-Emerald Press, Greenville, South Carolina), we find a recent example of the aforementioned revision of history. This book is edited by James B. Williams. Contributors and other men associated with the book include John Ashbrook of the Ohio Bible Fellowship; Keith Gephart of International Baptist College; William Smallman of Baptist Mid-Missions; Ernest Pickering of Baptist World Mission; Larry Oats of Maranatha Baptist Bible College; James Price of Temple Baptist Seminary; Douglas McLachlan of Central Baptist Theological Seminary; Sam Horn of Northland Baptist Bible College; and David Beale of Bob Jones University. This book was promoted at the World Congress of Fundamentalists at Bob Jones University in 1999. An autographed copy was presented to Bob Jones III at an evening session, and he made a passionate speech about it. Within a matter of hours, their stock of the book was sold out and more copies were delivered the next day.
In the Introduction to this book, Dr. J.B. Williams called the defense of the KJV a “cancerous sore” that has resulted in “a deplorable condition in Fundamentalism.” He described the defense of the KJV a “mass of misinformation.” Dr. Williams then traced the history of what he calls “King James Onlyism” back to Seventh-day Adventist Benjamin Wilkinson and to Dr. Peter Ruckman, editor of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin. He then listed “others who have joined in this parade of misinformers, including D.A. Waite, E.L. Bynum, Jack Chick, and Walter Beebe” (page 7). He said: “The list increases with time as more unqualified proponents of the KJV Only view join in the confusion.”
Those are not mild words, my friends. These men say they are concerned about the “mean-spiritedness” and divisiveness of those who defend the KJV, but FROM THE MIND OF GOD TO THE MIND OF MAN sounds very mean-spirited and divisive to me.
Furthermore, having studied this topic diligently for 25 years, having spent many thousands of dollars to purchase related books, having developed one of the most extensive bibliographies on the subject, having gone to great expense to travel to serious research facilities such as the British Library, having corresponded with hundreds of men on all sides of this subject, and having written an extensive history of the defense of the Received Text and the King James Bible, I am convinced that Dr. Williams presents a slanderous caricature of the truth. Dr. Williams ignores the fact that many King James Bible defenders have scholarly credentials at least equal to that of the contributors to From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man.
It is an unequivocal fact of history that the defense of the Received Text and the KJV did not originate with a Seventh-day Adventist, but with godly men in Britain in the 1800s who defended the Greek text underlying the KJV against the new theories of textual criticism, which they considered to be unbelieving and heretical. I have documented this extensively in my 500-page hardcover book For Love of the Bible: The History of the Defense of the KJV and the Received Text from 1800 to Present [available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. http://www.wayoflife.org (web site), email@example.com (e-mail), 866-295-4143 (toll free), 519-652-2619 (phone)].
This series of articles is an attempt to help set the record straight. The following is an example of the men and organizations that have defended the Received Text and the King James Bible during the past 150 years:
DR. DONALD A. WAITE
Donald A. Waite is a Baptist scholar who has written in the defense of the Received Text and the King James Bible since 1971. Dr. Waite has 118 semester hours (1,888 class hours) of training in the biblical and other foreign languages, plus countless hours of teaching and personal research in the use of these languages. He obtained a B.A. in classical Greek and Latin from the University of Michigan in 1948; a Th.M. with high honors in New Testament Greek Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1952; an M.A. in Speech from Southern Methodist University in 1953; a Th.D. with honors in Bible Exposition from Dallas Seminary in 1955; and a Ph.D. in Speech from Purdue University in 1961. He holds both New Jersey and Pennsylvania teacher certificates in Greek and Language Arts, and has taught Greek, Hebrew, Bible, Speech, and English for over thirty-five years in nine schools.
Dr. Waite founded the Bible For Today (BFT) ministry in 1971, the year he published his first book on the subject of Bible versions. He has produced over 700 studies, booklets, cassettes, and VCR’s that he distributes through BFT, along with hundreds of titles by other men on a wide variety of subjects. [Bible for Today, 900 Park Ave., Collingswood, NJ 08108. 800-564-6109 (orders), 856-854-4452 (voice), 856-854-2464 (fax), BFT@BibleForToday.org (e-mail).]
Some defenders of the modern versions pretend that today’s King James defenders are intellectual pygmies who merely parrot things they have received from someone else. Such a view is far from the truth. Dr. Waite, for example, has produced a number of exacting studies in the field of Bible versions. I can understand how someone might disagree with the King James defender’s conclusions, but to gloss over or ignore entirely the diligent research behind the positions of men such as this and to pretend that they could not possibly be true scholars is a farce.
To find out for himself the exact number and nature of changes that have been made in the critical Greek text, for example, Waite went through the Westcott-Hort text and compared it with the Received Text. He counted every single word difference, and weighed its significance. When Waite says there are 9,970 Greek words added, subtracted, or changed from the Received Text in the Westcott-Hort text, he is not merely parroting what he read somewhere. He is citing his own scholarly research. He has also done this with at least three of the modern English versions (the NASV, NIV, and the NKJV), comparing them word for word with the King James Bible and the Received Text, noting the number and significance of the differences. He has also published the results of these studies.
I repeat, it is one thing to disagree with Dr. Waite’s conclusions. It is quite another thing to pretend that he and others like him are some sort of crackpot cultists.
The following TESTIMONY BY DR. WAITE PERTAINING TO HIS INVOLVEMENT IN THE BIBLE TEXT/VERSION DEBATE is recorded from an interview he gave us on audiocassette in January 1992. I have updated some of the statistics:
For about twenty years, I was in darkness about this issue. I knew almost nothing of it from roughly 1951 to 1971. I was at Dallas Theological Seminary from 1948 to 1952. That was my Master of Theology. Then I stayed an extra year, 1953. Throughout those years we were simply told to use the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament, which we did in the Greek classes. It was the actual text Westcott and Hort developed. It was not simply another text—the Nestles Text or the Souter Text—but it was the Westcott and Hort. And I didn’t know there was any other Greek text.
I majored in classic Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan, 1945-48. I took three years to get my four years of work. I went summer and winter, so that I could marry my wife, Mrs. Waite. Then I came to Dallas Seminary. I was learning New Testament Greek, and I didn’t pay much heed to the text. I didn’t care. I just wanted to learn the forms and get good grades, which I did. But I did not examine the textual base that we were using. I just assumed that was the only one to use.
I have always read from the King James Bible. I’ve always preached from the King James Bible. I’ve always studied from the King James Bible. I’ve never used any other Bible, even though at Dallas Theological Seminary they requested that we use the American Standard Version of 1901, the ASV. I never used it. I looked at it a couple of times. I bought a copy and still have a copy of it. But the teachers there, Dr. J. Elwood Evans, and the practical theology department, the preaching department, and others said that that’s the most accurate version there is in English—much more accurate than the King James Bible. They didn’t say why, but I believe the reason why is that it conforms to the Westcott and Hort Greek Text. It adds words that the Westcott and Hort adds; it subtracts words that the Westcott and Hort subtracts; and it changes words that the Westcott and Hort changes. This, then, was the reason.
Crossing out verses in the Scofield Bible
I guess I was too stupid to understand it, too thick, or something, But I didn’t change. I kept going with the King James Bible. I used the Old Scofield 1917 edition, and I was so committed to the excellence of the Scofield Reference Bible and their ‘wisdom,’ that every time the editors suggested a change in the Greek text, and a change in the English translation of that text, I went along with it. I accepted it. This is now roughly from 1951 to 1971. Actually this dates from when I became a Christian. I was saved in 1944.
I had no doubts about the notes, but after having learned the truth of the Textus Receptus and the value of it, I noticed in the Preface of the Scofield Reference Bible that Dr. Scofield prefers the B and Aleph, the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts. He says that these are the more up-to-date manuscripts, and they are really the ones to follow, and they really are better than the manuscripts that the King James Bible translators used. And I notice that for this reason he makes these notes in the margins. Now he says that he’s not going to use any other version, because the King James Version is the one that is accepted by the people today. You remember that quotation in the Preface of the Old Scofield Bible. But I was so enamored with this editorial development and editorial comment, that every time they suggested a change I would pencil out any words that they said did not belong in the text. In fact even in the Bible that I still have, that my wife gave to me in 1947 before we were married in 1948, these are penciled out.
For example, in 1 Cor. 11:23, where it says, ‘This is my body which is broken for you.’ The marginal reference says, ‘Which is for you.’ They take out ‘broken,’ so in my own copy of the Bible, the Old Scofield Bible, I have penciled out the word ‘broken.’ And so I have done throughout all the changes that they suggest in the margin. This shows how committed I was to following what these people said who were committed totally to the Westcott and Hort Greek Text.
How I came to understand this issue
You ask the question, then, how I came to understand the Bible version issue. I guess the first thing I read about, or knew about, my mother-in-law to be, Mrs. Gertrude Grace Sanborn, gave me a book God Wrote Only One Bible. I didn’t say or think too much about it. I didn’t study it at the time, but that was my first introduction. Then as I was teaching as professor of Greek at Shelton College in Cape May , New Jersey, I had one of my pupils, Sandra Devos—Sandra Phillips, I think, was her name then. She married Bill Devos, also one of my Greek students and speech students that I taught at Shelton College. Sandy said that there is a book in our library at Shelton by Dean John William Burgon that defends not only the King James Bible, but also the Greek text, the Received Text that underlies that Bible.
‘Have you ever seen that book, Dr. Waite?’ she asked me.
I said, ‘Well, no, I haven’t.’
I think I might have looked at it; I might have glanced at. I thought to myself, ‘Here is an interesting thing. Here is the first book that I have seen that says there is a difference in the Greek text that the modern versions are using, and that the King James Bible text that underlies it, the Textus Receptus, is superior to the Westcott and Hort-type text, or to the critical text.’ ...
Then about that time, I think it was about 1969 or 1970, along in there, Dr. Fuller came out with his book Which Bible?. I read that. Also, I looked at at least one of the books by Dr. Edward F. Hills, Believing Bible Study. I don’t think I saw at the time his other book, The King James Bible Defended.
So in 1971, having read these various books, I was deeply convicted and convinced that the King James Bible and the Greek text that underlies it, as well as the Hebrew text—although I got into the Hebrew text a little bit later—but I was convinced that the Greek text that underlies the New Testament of the King James Bible was the accurate text to use.
Writing my first book on the subject
Thus I wrote my first paper on this thing. It was 1971. I combined, you might say, just trying to get a digest of these three books—God Wrote Only One Bible by Jasper James Ray; Which Bible?, edited by Dr. David Otis Fuller, who was a good friend of mine at that time and was until the day of his death; and Believing Bible Study by Dr. Edward F. Hills. The 1971 book was called The Case for the Received Text of Hebrew and Greek underlying the King James Version: A Summary of the Evidence and Argument. This was the book that I put out first, in 1971.
You can say the first twenty years, from 1951-71, I was in somewhat of a daze, somewhat of a darkness, concerning the issues. Then from 1971-91, twenty more years, I have been writing, I have been studying, I have been preaching, I have been teaching, I have been debating, I have been arguing, I have been talking about, I have been preaching from, I have continued to memorize from and believe the King James Bible and the text that underlies that Bible. So for twenty years I’ve been a stalwart defender of that Book.
I have studiously stayed away from the extreme position, however, of Dr. Peter Ruckman. I believe that position is heresy. That position in effect says that the King James Bible is not a translation but is direct, Holy-Spirit revelation, [coming] word for word, including the italics, from God in 1611. I believe that position is heresy. I believe that is adding revelation to the Word of God where He said the canon was closed. ... I believe to say that God supplanted and threw away the Hebrew and Greek that He gave us originally and now He is giving us special word for word revelation in the English language called the King James Bible, I believe that is heresy.
But I do believe in the superiority of the King James Bible. I believe it is God’s Word kept intact in English. I hold it up proudly and say it is the Word of God in English. Our Dean Burgon Society does as well, and we strongly support it.
The Bible for Today
Our The Bible for Today ministry in Collingswood, New Jersey, which began in extensive fashion in 1971, has paralleled the development of this whole theme of the superiority of the King James Bible, and the Textus Receptus, and the version issue. In 1971 we saw the light on that issue, and in 1971 we also began our The Bible for Today ministry in a more extensive way. We have more than 2,100 titles that we carry. Of those 2,100, about 785 titles are concerning the defense of the King James Bible, both on video cassette recordings, on audio recordings, on books, on booklets, not only that I have written, but that others have written. So The Bible for Today has become a very important arm of this entire ministry.
The Dean Burgon Society
Since 1978 I have been the president of the Dean Burgon Society. That Society has a motto, ‘In defense of traditional Bible text.’ This refers to the traditional Massoretic Hebrew Old Testament Text that underlies our King James Bible, the traditional Greek New Testament Received Text, and the King James Bible itself, which is the traditional English Bible. We have over ten or eleven small booklets on various issues and subjects that deal with this Bible version issue. We publish them under the Dean Burgon Society title, and we continue to stand for this in the Dean Burgon Society.
Publishing out-of-print titles
The Bible for Today is a publishing organization, as well as carrying books from other publishers. One of the things we want to see published more than anything else are works that are defending our King James Bible, the Received Greek Text, and the Massoretic traditional Hebrew text, as well. We have reprinted old books that are now out of print. Some of these are The Authorized Edition of 1611: The History and Changes In It by Scrivener. We have reprinted all five of Dean John William Burgon’s books [on Bible texts]—Causes and Corruptions of the Traditional Text, The Traditional Text itself, Revision Revised, The Last Twelve Verses of Mark, and Inspiration and Interpretation. There are about 2,000 pages we have reprinted in full, with the original pagination and editions. At first we did it in a humble way, by photocopy machine method, in 8 ½ X 11 inch format, spiral bound. During the last few years, we have published all of Burgon’s books in lovely hardcover editions.
Then we have reprinted Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment. This is 924 pages, two volumes, by Herman Hoskier. In this he compares B and Aleph, the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus, and says that in over 3,000 places they contradict one another in the gospels alone. That’s an important one.
We’ve reprinted Dean John William Burgon’s biography by Goulburn. This is 801 large pages, two volumes.
We reprinted The English Revised Version Text Is Unauthorized by G.W. Samson.
We’ve reprinted Edward Miller’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the New Testament. That’s the Edward Miller that was the understudy of Dean Burgon.
We’ve reprinted Frederick Nolan’s Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, or the Textus Receptus.
We’ve reprinted even Hort’s Introduction to the Revised Greek Text, even though we disagree with it. ‘An Erroneous Theory,’ we call it. It is 530 pages. It has been out of print for a long while and Dean Burgon’s Revision Revised refuted this study, so we wanted it available for those who wanted to see exactly what Hort has written.
Then we have reprinted Alexander McClure’s King James Translators Revived: Biographical Notes. This was written over 100 years ago.
We have reprinted Wilkerson’s Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. We’ve also reprinted Scrivener’s Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament. This is 920 pages, two volumes. We’ve also reprinted Scrivener’s Greek New Testament, the Textus Receptus and the Westcott and Hort Greek Text in one edition, with the Westcott and Hort in bold face. We’ve reprinted Spurgeon’s Quotations Against the English Revised Version of 1881.
Then we have reprinted Textual Commentary on Matthew 1-14 by Edward Miller. It is 141 pages.
We have, therefore, reprinted many things on this issue of the version issue.
Computer studies on the new versions
I think one of the most important publications that we’ve made recently on the version issue has been the documented computer printout studies of the perversions of the New King James Version. We have over 2,000 examples of perversion and paraphrase in the New King James. There is also the study that we have made of the New American Standard Version, where we have shown over 4,000 examples of perversion and paraphrase. And there is the study of the New International Version, where we have shown 6,653 examples of perversion and paraphrase.
All three of these, to a lesser or greater extent, have used perversion, paraphrase, and dynamic equivalency. And we believe there are three ways this has been done. They have added to the words of God; they have subtracted from the words of God; and they have changed the words of God, and we believe they are theologically in error, as well.
Also we have reprinted five excellent books by Pastor/Missionary Jack Moorman. Brother Moorman is an excellent scholar and student on this whole issue. He’s one of the members of the executive committee of the Dean Burgon Society. He’s in England now as a missionary. He has written five books, as we have said, and excellent books at that. They are Conies, Brass, and Easter: King James Bible Problems Answered; Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version; Forever Settled: Bible Documents and History Survey; The Hodges and Farstad So-called Majority Text Refuted by Evidence; Missing In Modern Bibles. Early Manuscripts takes up over 356 doctrinal passages that are affected by the Greek text of Westcott and Hort and Nestle-Aland 26th edition. Forever Settled was recently published in a hardcover edition.
We believe that the Lord is honoring this defense of the King James Bible. It’s just like hitting a nail with a hammer. You hit it, and you concentrate on it, and you keep hitting it, and pretty soon that nail begins to travel into the wood. And I believe with this ‘Little Johnny One Note,’ hitting and drumming and pounding—not only in our The Bible for Today ministry but also in our Dean Burgon Society ministry and our radio ministry—we believe this will give us results. And it has given us results. We believe many are waking up to this matter.
These things have encouraged us and give me to understand that there is a movement of change and of opposition to the new versions and perversions in this country.
I believe we can do it on a respectful basis. I believe we can do it on a logical and fundamental basis, without being wild and fanatical. We’re forceful; we’re emotional about it. I am positive that I am right about it. I have no doubts about it, but we can do it in a kind fashion without using lots of adjectives which are almost like swear words, as Dr. Ruckman himself gets into many times. We can do it in a forceful manner, and yet a respectful manner, using the king’s English persuasively, to persuade others that the King James Bible is the Word of God in English and should be used in every area of our church life, of our school life, of our college life, of our printing life, our publishing life, our memorizing life, and our practicing life.
My background of Master of Theology at Dallas Seminary has been helpful. I majored in New Testament Greek literature and exegesis, and took many hours of electives in that language, as well. And I took two years of Hebrew at Dallas Seminary in my Master of Theology level, then I took another year and a half in the Doctor of Theology level.
This background that I have had as a trained person in these languages I believe has helped me greatly in being able to see the different texts in Hebrew and Greek. Though I do not try to flaunt the knowledge of these subjects, yet I do believe that the study of these languages, though I don’t say that is the only way that you have to go, has made me more equipped than ever in the battle for this King James Bible that I love. I praise God for the training and the background, and for the ministry God has given to me in The Bible for Today, and in the Dean Burgon Society.
In 1992, Dr. Waite published Defending the King James Bible: A Four-fold Superiority. It is now available in a lovely hardcover edition. We believe this 307-page book is one of the very best books on the subject. Dr. Waite presents a four-fold superiority of the King James Bible over the modern versions: It is based upon superior texts; it had superior translators; it incorporated a superior translation technique; and it has a superior theology.
[All of the aforementioned books are available from Bible for Today, 900 Park Ave., Collingswood, NJ 08108. 800-564-6109 (orders), 856-854-4452 (voice), 856-854-2464 (fax), BFT@BibleForToday.org (e-mail).]
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