THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION'S REPLY TO
New Age Bible Versions

 

INTRODUCTION

Before we look at the real issues...

There is an old saying in the law that you ought to know with whom you are dealing. A worthy opponent is one who is not only capable of making a good case, but also honest in pointing out the faults of his or her opposition. Such a person does not deliberately misrepresent the opposition or slant the facts in order to pervert the truth. Unfortunately Gayle A. Riplinger has done both of these things, and it would be a disservice to the reader to allow Ms. Riplinger's methods to go unchallenged.

The introduction of her book NEW AGE VERSIONS (hereafter called NEW AGE) outlines the intent and direction of the book by stating that the new versions, by means of changes, additions, and omissions in the translations have, like genetic mutations, affected the health of the Body of Christ. This charge includes the claim that the editors of the new versions and related materials have been identified with seances, mental illness, heresy and new age organizations. The book follows typical conspiracy formatting using guilt by association, out-of-context quotes and misquotes, and leaps of faulty logic to establish a satanic plan to pervert the original (KJV) Word of God so that unsuspecting Christians might be swept up by the anti-Christ and one world government.

She also includes an introductory "endorsement" paragraph by Franklin Logsdon wherein he disassociates himself from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, and refers to himself as the co-founder of the NASB. We wish to clarify his statements and offer the following information:

The Board of Directors of The Lockman Foundation launched the NASB translation work in the late 1950's following the completion of the AMPLIFIED NEW TESTAMENT. Dr. S. Franklin Logsdon was acquainted with Dewey Lockman, president of The Lockman Foundation. Mr. Logsdon was never a member of the Board of Directors, nor was he an employee of The Lockman Foundation. Mr. Logsdon had no authority to hire employees or translators for the Foundation, to set policy, to vote, to hold office, to incur expenses, etc. He cannot be considered "co-founder" of the NASB or part of the Lockman Foundation. According to our records, he was present as a guest at a board meeting on two occasions -- once to hear a travel report; and once to deliver an "inspirational thought."

Mr. Logsdon wrote to Mr. Lockman in fall of 1973 saying that he was moving to Florida. Mr. Lockman replied that he was surprised and saddened by his decision to leave the area. Mr. Lockman passed away in January of 1974, and no further correspondence was exchanged between Frank Logsdon and The Lockman Foundation. He lived in Largo, FL until his death.

We will not devote the considerable space it would take to identify all the fallacies and misrepresentations in NEW AGE. We will, however, identify various examples, and a reader armed with these examples should be able to identify and appraise other fallacies and errors as they are encountered.

II. FALLACIES AND MISREPRESENTATIONS IN NEW AGE BIBLE VERSIONS BY G.A. RIPLINGER.

II.A. Quotations out of context.

One of the more diabolical ways to attack someone is to put together pieces of quotations out of context, in a way that will radically misconstrue what the author actually said. We are all familiar with this technique in political campaigns and other contexts where people are vying for power. Some examples from Ms. Riplinger's book will reveal how she uses the technique to create the false impression that well-respected scholars who in fact maintain that the early manuscripts are superior to the Byzantine Text either favor the Byzantine Text, or contradict themselves and are unwilling to admit it.

 

II.A.1. Frederic Kenyon.

The first example is a quotation from Frederic Kenyon's THE TEXT OF THE GREEK BIBLE, found on p. 475 of NEW AGE. When quoting someone, it is permissible to leave out portions of what the person has said provided that ellipses (...) are used and the omission does not change the substance of what was said. It is also permissible to add words in brackets to clarify the quotation, provided again that the addition does not change the meaning of the quotation. Ms. Riplinger uses ellipses and brackets liberally, leaving the reader with the impression that the quotations are modified but accurate. Sometimes she adds boldface text, etc. as well, to suit her own purposes. Examine the following quotation of Kenyon as Ms. Riplinger presents it, compared with the original passages from which she has gleaned her quote:

This is the text found in the great majority of manuscripts, entrenched in print by Erasmus and Stephanus and known as the Textus Receptus or Received Text...Until 1881...it held the field as the text in practically universal use and when its position was then decisively challenged, a stiff fight was made in its defense by advocates such as Burgon. [This 'New' Minority-type Greek text] used predominantly...Aleph and B type readings...[The changes] amount to an extensive modification of the text. [It] has been the dominating influence in all modern critical editions. It is clear that...deliberate alteration...has been at work on a large scale in one text or the other...The Textus Receptus being habitually the longer and fuller of the two.

The boldface is Riplinger's own and should have been identified as such (this is normal procedure in research and writing, with which Riplinger claims familiarity). She footnotes pp. 197-204, 224, and 231 of Kenyon's book. It turns out that of these references only page 231 is correct, but she is citing a older 1958 edition which theoretically could have had different pagination--theoretically, that is, because there is no 1958 edition listed in the book (the copyright dates are '36, 48, and '75).

The first part of the quotation ("This is...Text...") is fairly accurate, with only a comma missing after Stephanus. What is omitted after "Received Text..." is "as opposed to the critical editions of modern times." Little or no harm seems to have been done, except that the reader's patience will be frustrated in locating the excerpt, which comes from p. 208 in the 1975 edition. The next sentence, from p. 209, suffers more significantly because what Kenyon really says (without the added boldface) is, "Until 1881, in spite of the growing dissatisfaction of scholars, it held...." Apparently Riplinger wanted to paint a more favorable picture of the Textus Receptus than Kenyon was allowing.

At this point in the quotation, Riplinger begins both to use fragments of sentences from different contexts and to change some of the words. She changes the subject to the early manuscripts by adding the words "This 'New' Minority-type Greek text," her designation for the Alexandrian manuscripts. The fragment which follows ("used predominantly...readings...") seems to have been taken from p. 169 of Kenyon, where he says of the church father Origen, "In his earlier writings he used MSS predominantly of the Aleph B type, though readings of [italics mine]...." Kenyon uses the Hebrew letter for Aleph, but Riplinger probably spelled out its name for lack of a Hebrew typesetting font. Actually it is true that the Alexandrian manuscripts are exemplified by Aleph and B, but Riplinger apparently liked the sound of "used predominantly..." so much that she decided to snip it from its own context and add it to her quotation. This method is reminiscent of ransom notes made by cutting words out of magazines.

The real damage done to Kenyon's original statements begins with the sentence "[The changes] amount to an extensive modification of the text." The reader would naturally assume that Kenyon is describing how the "Minority-type" text has modified the original or correct reading. Just the opposite is true, however, because this fragment actually comes from p. 211, from the discussion on the Textus Receptus which began with the sentence, "This is the text found...Received Text" quoted earlier. Kenyon has just described a number of minor changes from earlier manuscripts that can be seen in the Textus Receptus. Then, what he actually says is:

Each of these alterations is trifling in itself, but collectively they amount to an extensive modification in the text, and show how freely it was handled by scribes and editors throughout the period when what we now call the Received Text was being developed [italics mine].

The next sentence is not badly represented, but it takes on a different implication by being separated from its context. It actually occurs later on p. 214 of Kenyon under his discussion of the Alexandrian text-type, where he says, "It is the most clearly marked [i.e. distinguished] of all, and has been the dominating influence in all modern critical editions." His point is that the Alexandrian manuscripts have deservedly been preferred by modern scholars. By omitting the first part of the sentence and placing it where she does, Riplinger instead creates the impression that Kenyon either disapproves of the fact that the early manuscripts dominate modern editions of the Greek New Testament, or else that he is wary of those same editions.

The sentence which follows ("It is clear that...one text or the other") is an even more alarming piece of patchwork. Most of the sentence comes from p. 231 where Kenyon is comparing the Western text with the Alexandrian text-type, not the Alexandrian with the Byzantine Text as Riplinger would have the reader believe. Kenyon actually says,

It is clear that editorial revision has been at work on a large scale in one text or the other and later adds:

All this seems to suggest a lax handling of the text in the region in which the delta [i.e. Western] text had its development, and seems, in the eyes of most scholars, to establish a presumption in favor of the beta [i.e. Alexandrian] text, which, however, need not be decisive in every case.

Notice that where Kenyon had "editorial revision" in the earlier quotation, Riplinger has substituted "deliberate alteration," a term which is snipped from a sentence on p. 237 in Kenyon and obviously has a more ominous sound to it than "editorial revision." In fact, she modifies the rest of the sentence on p. 237 and uses it to end her quotation. To clarify what Riplinger has done, we will again quote what Kenyon says on p. 231 and then what he actually says on p. 237 (still comparing the Western text with the Alexandrian), followed by Riplinger's version, placing the corresponding fragments from Kenyon in italics:

It is clear that editorial revision has been at work on a large scale in one text or the other. (Kenyon p. 231)

It will be plain also that they [variant readings] are not the result of casual scribal errors, but must be due to deliberate alteration on one side or the other, the delta text being habitually the longer and fuller of the two. (Kenyon p. 237)

It is clear that...deliberate alteration...has been at work on a large scale in one text or the other...The Textus Receptus being habitually the longer and fuller of the two. (Riplinger p. 475)

Notice how Riplinger has replaced Kenyon's "delta text" with her own "Textus Receptus," though in fact the two are different texts. Kenyon intended this description of the Western text to be understood as an undesirable feature (because it is adding extra words to the original), but Riplinger makes it seem as though he might mean that words from the original which have been omitted by the Alexandrian manuscripts have been kept in the Textus Receptus.

A little later Riplinger tries to mislead her readers further in regard to the same issue--unless she is merely reflecting her own state of confusion--with the following remark:

'Recension', according to Webster means "revision." The NASB Interlinear Greek-English New Testament refers to its 'Greek text' as a "recension." Wouldn't you really rather have 'the original'? (NEW AGE p. 477)

Selfishly speaking, we would be thrilled to have the original! But by "original" Riplinger undoubtedly means the Byzantine text as translated into the English KJV. This begs the question. Since there appears to be no original manuscripts still in existence (if there were, we could not identify them as such), and since there are variations in those copies that do exist, some approach to ascertaining the original wording must address the issues raised by the variations. To simply assert that the Byzantine text is correct without any basis other than the large numbers of manuscripts is not to take the question about the original text seriously (see "The Real Issue--The Manuscript Issue").

II.A.2. D.A. Carson's book, THE KING JAMES VERSION DEBATE.

An example of even more deliberate mishandling of a scholar's comments is seen in Riplinger's treatment of D. A. Carson's comments in his book THE KING JAMES VERSION DEBATE. Riplinger's quotations, which try to make Carson appear self-contradictory, are found on pp. 478-9 of NEW AGE. Note that the misquotations are indicated below by braces { }:

1. To set up and support her contention that Carson contradicts himself, she begins by quoting from p. 36 (chap. 5) of his book: "Nevertheless {Ms. Riplinger omits "Nevertheless" and capitalizes the following "the"} the textual basis {"base" in the original} of the TR ["T.R."] is a small number of haphazardly collected {"collated"} and relatively late minuscule manuscripts."

2. She then pieces together fragments from several lines on different pages to create the following quotation, preceded by her comment that this is what Carson says "chapters later":

95% of the MSS belong to the Byzantine tradition...[That is] the textual tradition which in large measure stands behind the KJV...[There are far more manuscripts extant in this tradition than in the other three combined [Caesarean, Western, and Alexandrian].

The first part of the quotation comes from p. 50 in chapter 7. There, what Carson actually says is: If it be true that about 95 percent of the manuscripts belong to the Byzantine tradition (and it is), it is also true that approximately the same percentage date from periods after the seventh century, when the Heimat of Greek had been reduced, more or less, to the Byzantine area.

Rather than emphasizing the fact that 95 percent of the manuscripts have a Byzantine background, it is clear that Carson is pointing out their late date and limited geographical distribution, and thus discounting the value of the sheer number of Byzantine manuscripts.

The next part of this quotation is introduced with "[That is]," which seems to serve no useful purpose except perhaps to create the impression that the author is being very careful not to misquote (technically there should have been four periods preceding, to show that the previous sentence was finished). Otherwise, a simple comma would have sufficed after the ellipsis. It is important to note that Ms. Riplinger introduces this quotation with the words: "[Chapters later he admits]"; because the remaining parts of the quotation actually come from page 26 (chap. 3) of Carson's book, two chapters before the first quotation. Here is what Carson actually says (the words quoted out of context by Riplinger are in italic):

This is the textual tradition which, in large measure, stands behind the KJV. It was largely preserved in the Byzantine Empire, which continued to use Greek, unlike the (western) Roman Empire and its offshoots, for which Latin was the common language. [T]here are far more manuscripts extant in this tradition than in the other three combined; but on the other hand, most of these manuscript witnesses are relatively late.

Notice again that Ms. Riplinger brackets the capital "T" of "There," even though the word was already capitalized in the original. To a reader who has not seen the original, this perhaps contributes to a false impression of accuracy in NEW AGE.

3. Riplinger introduces the next quotation with the comment, "[Then he disregards reason and concludes,]," as though this quotation shortly followed the previous one (number 2 above):

God, it is argued, has providentially preserved the Byzantine tradition--That is true...God preserved the Byzantine-text type for at least a millennium, during which time the others were unknown...True enough...[Is] everything that takes place under divine providence morally good or necessarily true? To say this is not to ascribe evil to God. Divine sovereignty is so all embracing that it stands behind all things, including...Adolf Hitler.

In fact what is quoted is taken out of context from comments much later on pages 55 and 56 of Carson's book (though not in that order). On page 56 we find: God, it is argued, has providentially preserved the Byzantine tradition. That is true; but He has also providentially preserved the Western, Caesarean, and Alexandrian traditions. Yet has not God preserved the Byzantine text-type for at least a millennium, during which time the others were unknown? True enough; but He preserved it in one small corner of the world, apart from which the Latin Vulgate reigned preeminent, a version based primarily on the Western textual tradition.

For the rest of the quotation, we have to turn back to page 55:

I am suspicious of propositional arguments that rest too much on providence, because divine providence can be variously interpreted. This is not to deny the providence of God: far from it. But it is to deny that everything that takes place under divine providence is morally good or necessarily true. To say this does not ascribe evil to God. Divine sovereignty is so all-embracing that it stands behind all things, including both John Calvin and Adolf Hitler. Such divine sovereignty is, however, asymmetrical: it stands behind Calvin and Hitler in different ways, such that the good produced is always traceable, in the last analysis, to God, while the evil produced is not traceable to Him in the same way.

Notice, among other things, the changes of punctuation introduced by Riplinger, and the attempt to make a question out of the fragment, "...everything...true".

4. Finally, Riplinger says, "Then he sheepishly adds:" introducing the following comment: "Of course one should be very careful and humble before dogmatically disagreeing with what the majority of believers have held to be true." What Carson actually says precedes the previous quotation on p. 55, far from "adding" to it:

Of course one should be very careful and humble before disagreeing dogmatically with what the majority of believers (whoever they are) have held to be true; but the fact that they believe it does not make it true, nor does it entail the falsity of any counter belief.

Notice that Riplinger has inexplicably switched "disagreeing" and "dogmatically," though such errors pale by comparison with the others.

 II.A.3. B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort.

An especially egregious collection of slanted and erroneous quotations is mounted to discredit B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, whose work on the Greek text of the New Testament has proved to be a watershed for textual criticism (see below under "The Manuscript Issue"). Because their work is so important and foundational, more needs to be said about Riplinger's treatment of them than her treatment of other scholars. However, to make the discussion as brief as possible, it will be limited to material Riplinger has excerpted from the original sources, i.e. the biographies of Westcott and Hort written by their sons.

  II.A.3.a. Westcott and "Hermes," a club for the Greek God of Magic?

The first of Riplinger's misrepresentations concerns a harmless choice of name for an essay-reading club formed by Westcott and six others at Cambridge University. It is stated on p. 400 of NEW AGE that Westcott organized and named the club "Hermes" for the Greek god of magic, occult wisdom, etc. In fact, the club was first called "The Philological Society" and later took the name of "Hermes," but the biographer (Arthur Westcott) does not say whose idea this was. While it is true that the Greek god Hermes is associated with a number of things including eloquence, cunning, and commerce, it is also true that he was known especially as the messenger of the gods and that his name is literally synonymous with the art of interpretation. Indeed, "hermeneutics" (named for Hermes) is the formal name given to the study of principles of interpretation as it is taught at Bible colleges and seminaries.

It is doubtless for the latter association with Hermes that the club took the name "Hermes." And before Ms. Riplinger or others argue that institutions which teach hermeneutics are really New Age centers in disguise, it should be pointed out that the New Testament writers used words formed from "Hermes" to speak of interpreters and interpretation or translation (e.g. Jesus' explanation of the scriptures in Luke 24:27). Moreover, the writers and the people they write about sometimes used other familiar pagan names for various things as well; for example, Jesus and John refer to Hades, even though this is the name for the pagan god of the underworld.

As for topics discussed in the reading club, the biographer simply lists those read by his father, and says nothing of "numerous undisclosed subjects" (NEW AGE p. 401), a phrase used by Riplinger to subtly suggest that the biographer was hiding something. There were, in fact, only two other subjects besides those cited by Riplinger: "The Theology of Aristotle" and "The so-called Aoristic Use of the Perfect [i.e. perfect tense] in Latin" (brackets mine). All of the topics are entirely typical of classical scholars' interests.

 II.A.3.b. Westcott's friend, a drug addict?

Ms. Riplinger makes a dishonest and feeble attempt to brand one of Westcott's friends as a drug addict when she misquotes Westcott as writing to "Frederic": "I am not quite sure that I will pardon you until I have a full account of the 'supernatural phenomenon' which may have accompanied your evanishment. It is but to say that I did not smell the odor of hempseed in the house" (NEW AGE 402). She distorts and trivializes the context by commenting, "The note indicates Westcott knew Frederic was not at home because he did not smell cannabis, marijuana or hashish on the premises." The letter, which was written to Rev. F. W. Wickenden (not Frederic Meyers, as Riplinger implies), refers to the dissolution of the Harrow school, of which Westcott was a faculty member. It is not clear what Westcott meant when he said the school was dissolved (it continued to exist), but the indication is that a number of faculty had left and that Westcott himself was planning to leave. In any case, Westcott comments that Wickenden has also disappeared (from where is not clear) due to the persuasive efforts of a certain Moorsom. Then, what Westcott actually says is: "I am not quite sure that I will pardon you till I have a full account of the 'supernatural' phenomenon which must have accompanied your evanishment. It is but just to say that I did not smell the odor of hempseed in the house" (LIFE OF B. F. WESTCOTT, vol. 1, p. 230; hereafter "Westcott" etc.).

Notice that in her own version of the quote, Riplinger has moved the quotation marks to include "phenomenon," changed "must" to "may," and left out the word "just" after "but." The impression one receives is that the "supernatural phenomenon" is a drug-induced experience, and of course Riplinger tells us what she thinks the rest means.

We would like to have more information about the situation, but the context that we do have shows that Westcott was surprised and perhaps upset about Wickenden's departure, and that the "'supernatural' phenomenon" was just Westcott's way of saying that it must have taken a great deal to get Wickenden to leave. What he means by "It is but just to say," etc. is that it is only fair ("just" = "fair") to allow that his friend did not have to be temporarily out of his mind (as one smoking hempseed would be, not to imply that Wickenden was doing so) to make such a decision. That this is intended as a joke is consistent with the rest of the letter; in it, Westcott gives a Homeric fragment in Greek which describes a group of wasps individually by name, and he cleverly links each of his departing colleagues by name and/or description to one of the wasps. Westcott's jocular way of making his point may have been covering his own personal hurt or surprise at Wickenden's actions.

 

II.A.3.c. Westcott and Hort, the channeling movement?

In her attempt to credit Westcott and Hort with much of the responsibility for the modern channeling movement, Riplinger calls attention to their formation of the "Ghostly Guild" (NEW AGE p. 404 ff.), a club to which she repeatedly refers in her book. Westcott, Hort, and several other scholars did form such a club to investigate "ghosts and all supernatural appearances and effects," but again the letters and other statements from their biographers, to which Riplinger refers for her information, paint a different picture when studied objectively. Westcott and Hort had no interest in "channeling" or spiritualism, and their purpose was simply to gather reports about supernatural phenomena of any kind for scientific study. Beneath this formal purpose (as stated in the prospectus for the club) may have been the goal of verifying the existence of angels, because Hort mentions that one reviewer at Edinburgh thought it "highly unphilosophical" for them to assume that angels exist. To this Hort responded that the club did not make such an assumption since their only classification was of "phenomena"; but he adds that none of the members would shrink from the assumption (LIFE OF F. J. A. HORT vol. 1, p. 219; hereafter "Hort" etc.).

Even if the club's purpose was to collect data on supernatural phenomena and ultimately confirm the existence of angels (and perhaps demons as well), it may very well have been unwise to engage in such study at the time, and it is only to be expected that criticism would come from some of their contemporaries. But the criticism was the result of skepticism about the possibility of the supernatural, not of a perceived attack on Christianity. This is apparently what Hort's son was referring to when he observed that the club was ahead of its time ("born too soon" were his words; Hort 1, p. 172). The derisive nicknames given to the club by outsiders also point to this skepticism: the club was called the "Bogie Club" by some and the "Cock and Bull Club" by others (Hort 1, p. 172; Westcott 1, p. 117).

II.A.3.d. Hort, extremely anti-evangelical?

Riplinger also tries to make Hort out to be extremely anti-evangelical (NEW AGE p. 406). It is true that Hort was not an evangelical according to the definition of the term in his time. According to his son, he considered the evangelical movement too sectarian, but he did not throw himself into any "opposite camp" (Hort 1, p. 41); on the contrary, one can see Hort's own commitment to Christ in a number of prayers and hymns that he wrote. One of the hymns included in the appendix of Hort's biography is as follows:

The Lord of Heaven hath stooped to earth,

Put on our form by human birth;

Redeemed by death the world He wrought,

And given the joys of life unbought.

Come now, we pray, Redeemer, come,

Shine on us in our earthly home;

And open to our waiting sight

The glories of Thine own glad light.

Stay with us, Lord and Saviour, stay,

Turn Thou our darkest night to day

Wash out our every stain of sin,

And heal the spirit sick within.

We know Thou camest once before;

We look for Thee to come once more

O let Thy sceptre ever bring

Thy people peace, Thou Heavenly King.

All glory, Lord, to Thee we pay,

Who showedst Thyself to men to-day;

Who hast as man to men made known

The brightness of the eternal throne.

II.A.3.e. Westcott, lifelong faith in Spiritualism?

It also needs to be noted that Riplinger badly distorts Westcott's son's appraisal of his father's involvement in the Guild when she says, "Westcott's son writes of his father's lifelong 'faith in what for lack of a better name, one must call Spiritualism...'" (NEW AGE p. 407). What the son actually writes is just the opposite: "What happened to this Guild in the end I have not discovered. My father ceased to interest himself in these matters, not altogether, I believe, from want of faith in what, for lack of a better name, one must call Spiritualism, but because he was seriously convinced that such investigations led to no good" (Westcott 1, p. 119). It should be pointed out to Ms. Riplinger that "want of faith" (she leaves out "want of" in her quotation) means "absence of faith in."

II.A.3.f Hort and Westcott, attempt to hide their connection?

On pages 407 to 408 of NEW AGE, a long quotation is attributed to Hort, the purpose of which is to make it appear that Hort wanted to publish the Greek text of the New Testament before the world discovered his and Westcott's connection (according to Riplinger) with the Ghostly Guild and spiritualism. In what can be interpreted as a colossal insult to the intelligence of any reader, Riplinger says that Hort wrote to Westcott in 1860 and 61, and then she combines excerpts from two letters into one quotation (as though it were from the same letter), reversing the order of the excerpts so that the one from the 1861 letter appears first. Had she kept the correct chronological order, it would have been more obvious that the excerpts do not match and were from two different letters. Apparently she hopes that the reader will not pay attention to the remark that the letters were from 1860 and '61 (as though Hort were writing one long letter during the two years?):

[This may sound cowardice--I have a craving that our text ['New' Greek New Testament] should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean a text issued by men who are already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy will have great difficulty in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms. . .If only we speak our minds, we shall not be able to avoid giving grave offense to. . .the miscalled orthodoxy of the day.

In the quotation the italics belong, of course, to Riplinger and should have been noted by her as such, but it has already been shown that such normal literary courtesies are ignored by her in the interest of misrepresenting her sources. Also, there are minor inaccuracies in both excerpts (e.g. "minds" for "mind" in the original). Far more important to note is the fact that the second excerpt (If only...the day) has nothing to do with the Greek New Testament and in fact was not written to Westcott but to J. B. Lightfoot. It concerned a New Testament commentary that Lightfoot, Westcott, and Hort were planning to do together (Hort 1, pp. 418-21). Hort was saying that they might have differences between them on principles of interpretation, and that if either of them wrote a extended commentary it would be impossible to please all their fellow scholars (the "miscalled orthodoxy").

In the first excerpt, which is from the later letter and ends with "alarms," it is difficult to tell what Hort means by the "text" because the most recent subject of his letters is the commentary described above. When he speaks of "suspicion" and "dangerous heresy," however, he is not referring to the Ghostly Guild but to essays that he and Westcott were thinking of writing in response to a book of essays that had discussed and challenged traditional approaches to Bible interpretation (Westcott 1, pp. 212 ff.). The viewpoints of the essays were too liberal for either man, but bishops representing the "Traditionalism" camp were "merely shrieking" (Hort's words) at the essays, and Hort believed that a serious and reasonable reply was needed. As time passed, however, it became difficult for them to decide on the best approach for a reply. Hort also felt that his and Westcott's moderate approach in their reply would be branded as heresy by the Traditionalists, which in turn would cause difficulties in fully publishing their "text." In any case, it is clear that Ms. Riplinger is expecting or hoping that none of her readers will gain access to the biographies and find out what the excerpts are really about.

II.A.3.g. The "Apostle's Club," deranged and dangerous?

Other equally devious distortions and misquotations from the biographies of Westcott and Hort abound in NEW AGE, and they should not be ignored. The "Apostle's Club" (official name "Cambridge Conversazione Society") and "Eranus" were clubs devoted to academic discussion and informal debate. It is true that the Apostle's Club was secretive, and its secrecy perhaps resulted in some criticism of it as reflected in Hort's letter to Ellerton (Hort 1, p. 198; cf. NEW AGE p. 415). But Hort hardly "admits the questionable character of the group," as Riplinger puts it. On the contrary, he urges his friend not to judge the group by "vague impressions," and tells him that the record book of the group's proceedings is very amusing. Indeed, he remarks that the arguments of one of the group's members (the one who does not believe in matter) are "ludicrous enough" (Hort 1, p. 198). Nevertheless, Riplinger seems to want to take such ideas far more seriously than Hort did, and thereby suggest that the group was deranged and dangerous.

II.A.3.h. Westcott and the "Eranus Club," guilty by association?

As for the Eranus club, it was organized at Cambridge in 1872 solely for the purpose of providing members of different academic departments opportunities for meetings and the interchange of ideas. Henry Sidgwick commented to Hort's son that "it was not however designed to have, nor has it from first to last had, a preponderantly theological character" (Hort 2, p. 184). This hardly agrees with Riplinger's description of a 1930's Eranos Club. Moreover, Westcott died 30 years before Alice Bailey could have used the "Eranos Club" as her platform, so making Westcott guilty by association with Bailey is extremely far-fetched.

II.A.3.i. Westcott, a new-age world government supporter?

To suggest that Westcott "would have agreed wholeheartedly" with a new-age world government because he chaired the Christian Union for Promoting International Concord (NEW AGE p. 417) is ridiculous and terribly unfair. To be accurate, he chaired the Provisional Committee of the Christian Union, and in a paper entitled "A Christian Policy of Peace" he maintained that Christians need to extend their principles beyond the scope of personal conduct to national and international relations (Westcott 2, p. 21). In another speech given to a peace conference, he said, "The question of international relations has not hitherto been considered in the light of the Incarnation, and till this has been done, I do not see that we can look for the establishment of that peace which was heralded at the Nativity" (Westcott 2, p. 23). As anyone can see, these are not the ideas of a new age demagogue, but of a Christian who believes that Christian principles ought to be applied to politics. At the national level we see conservative Christians becoming more and more actively involved in social and political issues, and more often than not their efforts are applauded by their fellow Christians.

II.A.3.j. Riplinger's false connection between "New order" and New Age.

It is true that Hort had a low opinion of American policy, but again, this had nothing to do with a "new world order" or government, as Riplinger implies (NEW AGE pp. 417-18). The truth of the matter is that Hort was speaking in regard to the War between the States, and he remarks, "The American empire seems to me mainly an embodiment of American doctrine, its leading principle being lawless force." (Hort 1, p. 459). No doubt other Europeans viewed the War in the same way; it must have seemed barbaric even to those who, like Hort, were well-enough informed to understand the basic issues.

Ms. Riplinger goes on to blame the Westcott and Hort text for the NIV's translation of Heb. 9:10 using the words "new order" (NEW AGE p. 421; NASB has "time of reformation"). "New order" is one of the meanings of the Greek word used by the writer of Hebrews, and as one of the lexicons points out, the idea of a new order is "in contrast to that of the law with its fleshly stipulations" (Bauer, p. 198). So Riplinger is simply following her usual procedure of ignoring the context of the verse, if by doing so she can make a false connection with some aspect of the new age movement. All Greek manuscripts have the same wording in the Greek for "time of reformation (or new order)," and as a result the Westcott and Hort text is in fact identical here to the Textus Receptus. Therefore if Riplinger wants to blame the Greek text, she will have to point her finger at the text behind the KJV as well.

 

II.A.3.k. Westcott and Ceonobium, a 60's style commune?

Following these remarks in NEW AGE, we are treated to an imaginary gathering of occultists, during which Westcott discusses the idea of a coenobium (a new age term according to Riplinger) and his dog (NEW AGE pp. 423-24). The word "coenobium" (or "cenobium") may not be found in every dictionary, but even abridged dictionaries include "cenobite" ("coenobite") and define it as "a member of a religious order living in a monastery or convent," hardly a "new age" concept. Westcott's idea was an association of families which would be a model to the outside world of the virtues of the family, not a 60's style commune as Riplinger implies (Westcott 1, pp. 263-65). As for the mysterious dog Mephistopheles, the dog actually belonged to one of Westcott's sons and no doubt was named by the son. When the son left England, it was a tearful experience for Westcott and he insisted on adopting the dog. We can easily surmise that when he speaks of the dog as a symbol (Westcott 2, p. 147; NEW AGE p. 424), he is thinking of his son.

II.A.3.l. Westcott reads Goblin stories?

Riplinger wrongfully states that Westcott's son recalls his father's tradition of reading Goblin stories at Christmas, and then she defines "Goblin" to make sure that a sinister picture of Westcott's family life is conveyed. The fact of the matter is that Westcott had a tradition of reading a fairy tale to the children on Christmas day, something they considered a great treat, and on one Christmas he read "Goblin Market" (Westcott 2, p. 185). This "Goblin" story was what we would now call a morality play about temptation.

II.A.3.m. "Riplinger simply made it up."

That Westcott and Hort had a low opinion of the Textus Receptus does not need to be debated, in view of the text's history (see below). However, one is at a loss to determine where Ms. Riplinger found the comment, which she attributes to Hort, that the Textus Receptus was "the Traditional Text of 1530 years standing" (NEW AGE p. 429). It is tempting to say that she simply made it up, because there is nothing remotely resembling this comment in the letter she cites. Where the Textus Receptus actually stands in the history of the Greek New TestaTestament will be discussed below.

II.A.3.n. Westcott, "The much scheming"?

In another error, Riplinger claims that Westcott signed a letter as "The much scheming B. F. Westcott" and she footnotes the reference, but no such signature is found in the letter she cites (NEW AGE p. 430; cf. Westcott 1, p. 200). It is true that several times the word "scheme" is used by Westcott or Hort in reference to a project, but all they meant by "scheme" was a well-organized plan of action, an older meaning found in any dictionary.

II.A.3.o. Hort's motive: Simply financial?

Immediately after her quips about "scheme," Ms. Riplinger tries to make us believe that Hort's motive for producing the Greek text was simply financial. To give this impression, she pieces together two unrelated comments: "[O]ne is perpetually spending huge sums on things which have no connection with the necessities. . .This, of course, gives me good employment" (NEW AGE 430). The first part is found in the following lines, from a letter in which Hort discusses the virtues of family life:

No one who has really thought about the matter can doubt that luxury (and much that is called comfort is really luxury) contributes little or nothing to happiness, and tends to relaxation of character. And again it is always an appalling thought to find that in spite of this conviction one is perpetually spending huge sums on things which have no evident connexion with the necessities of healthy and orderly existence (Hort 2, p. 106).

The line "This, of course, gives me good employment" comes from a letter to his wife, in which he was speaking about how work on the Greek New Testament and other things kept him busy and occupied. "Employment" in this context just means to be busy with something (another meaning for the word found in any dictionary).

II.A.3.p. Riplinger hashes excerpts together as one.

Following these comments, Riplinger forces the careful reader to go "pogo sticking" (to use one of her own terms) through both Westcott's and Hort's biographies to find the excerpts hashed together on pp. 430-31, which she again presents as though they were from the same passage. In fact, about half of the quotation is a repeat of the quotation on pp. 407-8 of NEW AGE already discussed above. The new material cut-and-pasted to the beginning of the quotation is "[S]trike blindly. . .much evil would result from the public discussion." The line from the actual Westcott letter to J. F. Wickenden (not to Hort) is found in the following ". . . Have you entered into the Maurice controversy? I only hope it may pass away quietly. At the first onset we always strike blindly; and much evil would result from the public discussion of the moot points just now" (Westcott 1, p. 229; the references in footnote 8 are completely confused). In her almost comical distortion of the quote, Riplinger deletes "At the first onset we always" in order to give "strike" the appearance of an imperative (command), and then she deletes everything after "discussion." As can plainly be seen, Westcott was discussing the controversial theories of F. D. Maurice, and intimating that it might be better if the controversy were allowed to simmer for awhile.

The rest of the quotation (beginning with "Evangelicals") is taken from a letter to R. Williams, and in the letter Hort explains why he cannot contribute to the "essays," which have already been discussed above (Hort 1, pp. 399-401, not vol. 2 as Riplinger notes). He does not say evangelicals are perverted, but instead, "The positive doctrines even of the Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than untrue". We have already discussed Hort's view of the evangelical camp, and the fact that he says here "perverted rather than untrue" indicates that he is using "perverted" in the sense of "misinterpreted" (another meaning from Webster's). Of course, Riplinger probably would have the reader believe that Hort sees all evangelicals as sexual perverts. When Hort comments on orthodox men being acted on unawares, what he is actually referring to is his hope and expectation that those in the "Traditionalist" camp (see above) will gradually come around to a more moderate position without a crisis being created by the proposed essays.

 

II.A.3.q. Westcott, a beer drinker?

If anything said about Westcott or Hort in NEW AGE were likely to contain some truth, one might expect it to be the comments about Westcott's being a beer drinker, as Riplinger says, "Late in life, he divulged his intemperance and became a spokesman for a brewery" (NEW AGE p. 431). While we might be surprised by the claim that Westcott was a brewery spokesman, it is not difficult to believe that a European (or even American) Christian might drink beer in good conscience. Even here, though, the distortions continue. What Westcott's son really says in full is:

My father was a frequent advocate of the cause of the Church of England Temperance Society both on public platforms and otherwise, but he was, of course, temperate in his speeches on this subject, and would not condemn the moderate use of pure beer. In fact, his zeal in the cause of pure beer involved him in a correspondence which was published in the newspapers in the latter part of 1893, and his picture, together with some of the following words spoken by him, was utilized for the adornment of the advertisement of a brewer of pure beer--

My idea is that they might have a public-house in which good beers alone would be sold. . . . If they were to establish what I would call a temperance public-house, it should be limited to the sale of good beer together with non-intoxicants. I would rigidly exclude wine and spirits.

The Bishop preceded to define pure beer as "the product of barley malt and hops only, no chemical or other injurious substitute for malt being used."

The Bishop was himself a teetotaler because of the present necessity, and although he sometimes with seeming seriousness professed to be much drawn towards beer, I never saw him taste any of the seductive fluid (Westcott 2, pp. 177-78).

Thus Ms. Riplinger's accusation is simply false (one is reminded of the Biblical injunctions against giving false testimony). However tempting beer might have been on occasion, Westcott never touched the stuff because of the offices and position that he occupied. As for the advertisement, it seems clear that the brewery never asked his permission to publish his words or picture (in that time they would not be legally bound to do so). Honest Christians can disagree about the wisdom of Westcott's views on moderate beer drinking for others. On page 626 of NEW AGE, Riplinger remarks that Westcott's letter to the Brewer's society is a complaint against inferior beer; but the letter actually leads up to a request that the brewers support Westcott in arguing that magistrates get all the details when someone is charged with drunkenness (Westcott 2, p. 219). His goal is to establish scientifically the true effects and harm of alcohol, at a time when little was known about it in this sense.

II.A.3.r. Westcott, an anti-prohibitionist?

On the same NEW AGE page is stated a quotation designed to make Westcott appear to be anti-prohibition. We now know that he was actually a spokesman for the temperance movement. It happens that at a temperance conference he criticized Prohibitionists for being "unstatesmanlike and impracticable" (Westcott 2, p. 238; note that Riplinger leaves out "and impracticable"). History as since shown us that strict legal prohibition is not practical, and perhaps Westcott was ahead of his time.

II.A.3.s. While drunk, Hort and Westcott make changes to the Greek text?

Ms. Riplinger goes on to insinuate that Westcott and Hort made changes to the Greek text while they were drunk (NEW AGE pp. 431-32). She then cites a paragraph from Hort's biography--composed, as usual, of excerpts from different letters--in an attempt to show that the two men believed their Greek New Testament would bring about a new period of church history. It is hard to underestimate the value of the work they did (see below under "The Manuscripts"), but Westcott and Hort themselves made no such lofty claim for their Greek text. In the quotation, the first line ("I do not think the significance...") is from a letter to Westcott in which Hort discusses Westcott's History of the English Bible, and he is in fact wondering why Westcott did not say more about the alternate readings in their Greek text (Hort 2, p. 102). The rest of the quotation, however, refers to work on the Revised Version, a new translation which involved many Bible scholars, and not Westcott's and Hort's Greek text. It is difficult to determine who the "angry objectors" are, but the context indicates that they are sectarian types who were not happy that so many different scholars were involved in the work (Hort 2, p. 139).

We should also note that Riplinger omitted from the quotation (before "The Difference...") the following line: "There is but one safe rule, to be as scrupulously exact as possible, remembering, of course, that there is a truth of tone as well as of grammar and dictionary" (Hort 2, p. 138). The omission was probably made both because it would have spoken well of the translators, and because it would have indicated that a translation was the topic and not the Greek text. She is not as careful when she says that G. Vance Smith was invited to join Westcott and Hort on "the revision" (NEW AGE p. 432). Her own account of the situation ("...Westcott and Hort said they would resign..." and "...changes of translation...") indicates that a Bible translation is under discussion, and not a new Greek text.

In the next section of her book Riplinger discusses this revision (NEW AGE pp. 433 ff.). Ironically, here she cites Hort's comment, "We still do not wish it to be talked about" (Hort 1, p. 264) as though it referred to the Revised Version, when it fact Hort was referring to their Greek New Testament, in a letter written 17 years before work began on the Revised Version. The context indicates merely that they wanted to begin work on the Greek without fanfare. Most scholars prefer to have most or all of a work done before they make it public. As though to establish a firm connection between the Westcott and Hort Greek text and the revision, Riplinger cites Hort's son as saying only that each member of the revision committee received a copy of their Greek text (NEW AGE p. 434). The full text of what was really said is:

Each member of the Company had been supplied with a private copy of Westcott and Hort's Text, but the company did not, of course, in any way bind itself to accept their conclusions. Another school of textual criticism was represented on the Company by Dr. Scrivener, and it was competent for any member to state and defend a view of his own. No change in the traditional text was admitted without a majority of two-thirds of the votes (Hort 2, p. 237).

Riplinger states that the public release of the Greek text and the Bible revision "brought a public outcry from conservative and moderate Christians" (NEW AGE p. 436). She then cites Hort as referring to this outcry, noting p. 145 of Hort volume 2 (NEW AGE p. 678, note 27). A reading of p. 145 of Hort's biography fails to reveal anything resembling the comment ". . . the abuse we are receiving. . .". The rest of the quotation is in regard to an unstated ruling by the "supreme court of the law," however, and has nothing to do either with Westcott's and Hort's Greek text or the Revised Version. In fact, the quotation is from a letter dated 1871, ten years before either work was released.

II.A.3.t. Westcott, progressively losing his voice?

In what is, even for her, a remarkable distortion of the sources, Ms. Riplinger goes on to claim that, according to his biographer, Westcott was progressively losing his voice from 1858 to 1870 (NEW AGE p. 448). We are supposed to believe that in 1858 "he was quite inaudible," and in 1870, "His voice reached few and was understood by still fewer". The full form of the first quotation, which was made by one of Westcott's former students, is:

He took his turn of preaching in Chapel, but he dreaded and disliked the duty, and he was quite inaudible to many of the boys. We knew all that same that his were no common sermons. It has been truly said "the sentences were closely packed with meaning, and the meaning was not always easy" (Westcott 1, p. 198).

The meaning is clearly that Westcott had a soft voice which was not easy to hear when he was speaking before a large group (remember, there were no public address systems then). The second quotation, in its unadulterated form from the headmaster of the school where Westcott taught, is "His voice was not yet a force in the chapel. It reached but a few, and it was understood by still fewer" (Westcott 1, pp. 272-73). It is introduced by the statement that Westcott was not quite 35 years old at the time. Since he was born in 1825, a little math reveals that the quotation refers to 1860 (not 1870), and by itself the context reveals that the two quotations are referring to the same fact that Westcott was hard to hear and understand when he spoke in chapel!

II.A.3.u. Westcott: "God appears in many forms"?

Later in NEW AGE, Riplinger refers to Westcott's "Platonic idea" that God appears "not in one form, but in many" (NEW AGE pp. 520-21). To say that Westcott and Hort were familiar with classical literature is true and should not be regarded as a criticism; great scholars, Christian and otherwise, have always studied the Classics. However, what Westcott actually says in the letter cited by Riplinger is, "As far as I could judge, the 'idea' of La Salette was that of God revealing Himself now, and not in one form but in many" (Westcott 1, pp. 251-52). Aside from the various ways that the statement could be interpreted, it is clear that Westcott is speaking of someone else's idea. He goes on briefly to discuss Heb. 1:1-2.

II.A.3.v. Plato, the center of Hort's reading?

Again, Ms. Riplinger maintains that Hort made Plato the center of his reading while he was working on the Greek New Testament (NEW AGE p. 523). In fact, Hort was discussing a trip to the Alps, and what he really said is: "Except some Greek Testament (and perhaps Plato), I am going to give myself up in the Alps to botany and geology" (Hort 1, p. 425). Moreover, it was not "Platonic speculations" in Hort's letters to F. D. Maurice that caused the latter to be dismissed from his faculty position. Instead, the dismissal was the result of correspondence between Maurice and a councilman at Cambridge named Jelf (Hort 1, pp. 260-64). The connection with Hort is that Maurice wrote to him in response to a question, and Maurice subsequently may have included what he wrote to Hort in a letter to Jelf.

II.A.4. Quotes from the Appendix of NEW AGE.

It remains to be noted that Riplinger includes an appendix of various quotations that are intended to further discredit Westcott and Hort (NEW AGE pp. 616-29). Some of these quotations have already been discussed, and it would test anyone's patience to deal with everything not yet covered; therefore we will focus on some of the quotations which have enough context to explain them.

1. To begin with, Westcott's "strange interest in Mormonism" (NEW AGE p. 617) was purely apologetic. One of the things that Riplinger leaves out of the quotation is that Westcott told the author of this letter "that all excesses and mischievous delusions among men came from one-sided views of truth, and too great importance given to one aspect of it, or else from people's assertion of party needs" (Westcott 1, p. 19). That is how he viewed Mormonism; i.e. as a delusion.

2. There is not really enough context for Westcott's "So wild" comment in his diary (NEW AGE p. 618), but it includes a prayer revealing his attitude:

Oh, the weakness of my faith compared with that of others! So wild, so skeptical am I. I cannot yield. Lord, look on me; teach me Thy truth, and let me care for nothing else in evil report and good. Let me uphold nothing as necessary, but only Thy truth (Westcott 1, p. 52).

3. When Hort referred to the Evangelicals' victory (NEW AGE p. 618), he was speaking of differing views of baptism, a subject that still is not entirely understood even in evangelical circles. Similarly, regarding another difficult subject, when Westcott says that his views are "perhaps extreme" in regard to the book of Revelation (NEW AGE p. 619), he is referring to the theory of interpreting things in a "double sense." Today this approach would not seem extreme among the different methods of dealing with the book.

4. Clearly there is not enough context to understand Westcott's and Hort's views on infallibility of the Bible (NEW AGE p. 622). However, showing Westcott's full comments will at least reveal how complex, and difficult to interpret, the situation can be:

All I hold is, that the more I learn, the more I am convinced that fresh doubts come from my own ignorance, and that at present I find the presumption in favor of the absolute truth--I reject the word infallibility--of Holy Scripture overwhelming (Westcott 1, p. 207).

It needs to be pointed out first that Riplinger misquotes and distorts Westcott's statement. He does not say that he rejects the word "infallibility" overwhelmingly. "I reject the word infallibility" is a parenthetical comment, and if we remove it we get the true sense "...at present I find the presumption in favor of the absolute truth of Holy Scripture overwhelming". Once we understand the grammar, we can see that this statement, together with what he says about doubts, is very consistent with a belief in infallibility. Few liberal Bible scholars today would agree with Westcott. The problem is that we do not know exactly what he means by "infallibility."

5. Westcott's comment, "It is strange, but all the questionable doctrines which I have ever maintained are in it" (NEW AGE p. 623; Riplinger omits "It is strange") refers to a book he wrote on the Biblical canon. Whatever the "questionable doctrines" may be, the way the comment is presented in NEW AGE gives one the false impression that Westcott is speaking of the Greek New Testament.

6. It would have been frustrating not to know the context of Hort's mother's comment about heaven (NEW AGE p. 627). As is often the case in NEW AGE, the endnotes are wrong. Here, the quotation is from Hort 1 p. 15, not 7, 41, or 77 as Riplinger indicates (NEW AGE p. 689 note 2). It turns out that the letter was not even written to Hort, but to his brother, Arthur J. What Hort's mother actually says (Riplinger's version is mangled, as usual) is:

We must think often of the many mansions of our Heavenly Father's House, and, my darling, how happy it will be if we all meet there; not one missing, of all our household here; then we shall care no more what home we had in this world, than we care now what sort of cradle we were rocked in.--So let us all press forward!

Obviously there is no implication that Hort or any particular member of the Hort family is an unbeliever. The words are those of a loving Christian mother who hopes for the best, but is wise enough to know that God alone sees into the heart of every person.

7. On page 629 of NEW AGE Riplinger has a long quotation (typically, an extensive and inaccurate cut-and-paste job) designed to make Hort appear to admit that he is so unorthodox that he could not fit into any recognized denomination. Within the quotation Riplinger puts the words "if it existed" in boldface so that one line reads, "[A] fundamental difference in the subject of the Atonement, if it existed, would place me in a false position as your examining chaplain . . .". There seems to be no point in emphasizing the boldfaced words if "it" is merely referring back to the "fundamental difference" (in that case, Hort would be saying that he is orthodox), so Riplinger apparently wants us to assume that Hort doubts the very existence of the Atonement.

The office offered Hort was Examining Chaplain, not a "pastor" type of chaplain as Ms. Riplinger indicates. The office entailed testing degree candidates at Cambridge, and Hort felt it only reasonable that the ideal person would agree with the Bishop of Ely in every respect of theology (Hort 2, p. 153). Hort was dubious about his own situation, more out of modesty than anything else; but we need to be aware that very precise details of theology are in view here, not broad principles or concepts such as come up repeatedly in NEW AGE. Moreover, there were not nearly so many theological camps or schools then as there are now, so finding a camp that you would agree with completely was even more difficult in Hort's time.

To get an idea how complicated the issues that concerned Hort really were, read the extended excerpt below on the subject of the Atonement. It comes from the passage quoted by Riplinger, but was (no doubt deliberately) omitted by her:

As regards the doctrine of the Atonement itself, I do not think there is a word in your Lordship's statement which I could not cordially accept as my own. If there is any difference, it concerns only the relation of the atonement to other doctrines. I feel most strongly the truth of what you say about sin and atonement as answering to each other. Christian peace comes not from sin denied, or sin ignored, but sin washed away. If it was not washed effectually away once for all upon the Cross, an awakened conscience has no refuge but in futile efforts after a heathenish self-atonement. Nor can I see how, man being what he is now, the Incarnation could bring about a complete redemption unless it included a true Atonement. The Resurrection itself loses more than half its power, if spiritual death has not been conquered as well as natural death. About the manner of the Atonement, we must all feel that it lies in a region into which we can have only glimpses, and that all figures taken from things below are of necessity partial and imperfect. It is the vain attempt to bring the Divine truth down to the level of our own understandings that has created all the dark perversions of the Atonement which have justly offended sensitive consciences, and so given occasion to the denial of the truth itself.

But it does not seem to me any disparagement to the sufferings and death of the Cross to believe that they were the acting out and the manifestation of an eternal sacrifice, even as we believe that the son ship proceeding from the miraculous birth of the Virgin Mary was the acting out and manifestation of the eternal Son ship. So also the uniqueness of the great Sacrifice seems to me not to consist in its being a substitute which makes all other sacrifices useless and unmeaning, but in its giving them the power and meaning which of themselves they could not have. Christ is not merely our Priest but our High priest, or priest of priests; and this title seems to me to give reality to Christian, as it did to Jewish, priesthood; both to the universal priesthood of the Church and to the representative priesthood of the apostolic ministry, without which the idea of any priesthood vanishes into an empty metaphor (Hort 2, pp. 157-58).

Hort was, of course, a member of the Anglican church, so the reader who is well-educated in church history and theology can probably find areas of legitimate disagreement in Hort's comments. Most of us, however, would probably be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with what Hort says. His words strongly echo passages from Hebrews and the Gospels. If anything, his explanation probably leans away from Anglican doctrine toward conventional Protestantism. Even so, is it really surprising that he received the position as chaplain? Ms. Riplinger thinks it is (NEW AGE p. 629), so are we to assume that she could offer a better explanation of the Atonement and its ramifications?

8. Finally, Ms. Riplinger closes her appendix with another choppy quotation gleaned from various passages; the quote is intended to show that Hort developed his own "cult" following at Cambridge, through the teaching of pagan subjects:

"His son writes: [For the next six years [he] lectured to the theological students at Emmanuel College. The subjects were Origen. . .Clement. . .etc. . .[his lecturing which exercised a kind of spell over the more thoughtful listeners. . .[There has grown up. . .a kind of cult around him. There is something mysterious about those lectures" (NEW AGE p. 629).

For one last time, we will attempt to put everything in its proper place by revealing the original sources. The first two lines are taken from the following:

For the next six years Hort lectured to the theological students at Emmanuel College. The subjects of his lectures in that period were Origen contra Celsum; the Epistle to the Ephesians; Irenaeus, contra omnes haereses, book iii.; the First Epistle to the Corinthians; the Epistle of St. James; Clement, Stromateis, book vii.; and the Apocalypse, chaps. i.-iii (Hort 2, p. 172).

It should be pointed out that the three works which are not Bible books are all about Christian theology. Origen's Contra Celsum is a defense of the faith written to a famous heretic. Irenaeus' work is the same, but more generally written against "all heresies." Clement's work is a collection of comments about complex theological issues.

The rest of the quotation comes from two other passages, one of which refers to Hort's teaching advanced subjects that appealed mostly to graduate students:

. . . there was an almost unique quality in his lecturing, which exercised a kind of spell over the more thoughtful listeners. One of these in a character sketch contributed to the Cambridge Review, as one of a series of, for the most part rather flippant, 'Letters to Lecturers,' gives a very perceptive description of him as he appeared to a disciple "There is something mysterious about those lectures. I do not think there is any one in Cambridge whose lectures are so utterly simple as yours are; language, ideas, reasoning, everything is simple in them. One does not at the time always feel that there is any particular depth in what you are saying, and yet, when the hour is over, and the notebook is shut, and we are out in our silly world again, we find that at least one point you have been telling us about has become a sort of living creature in our minds, has made itself a home in us, and will not leave off talking to us. The one childishly simple idea runs on in a whole 'chain of beautiful thoughts' that illustrate and explain everything we come across for days and months" (Hort 2, pp. 376-77).

Ms. Riplinger would like us to focus on the words "spell" and "mysterious," as though the student were unconsciously testifying to some new-age hocus-pocus used by Hort. To enhance this impression, she sandwiches into her excerpt the line with the word "cult," which in the original biography simply refers to the popularity that Hort garnered as a scholar and teacher. The biographer goes on to say:

"There was doubtless," he adds [the author is quoting Armitage Robinson], "an occasional exaggeration in our talk about him. But he had so seldom failed us, that we felt as if he really knew everything. Of the obscurest book we said, 'Dr. Hort is sure to have it'; of the most perplexing problem, 'Dr. Hort knows the solution, if he would only tell'; of any subject, 'Dr. Hort will tell you all the literature.' And indeed nothing seemed to have escaped him that had been done in any branch of theological research." But the help which he gave was not always of the kind which the inquirer expected; though he would sacrifice hours to provide a younger scholar with a list of references which no one else could supply, he would rarely provide him with a ready-made opinion. "He seemed to regard," says Professor Robinson, "the formation of opinion as a very sacred thing; he refused to prejudice by arguing with one who was beginning the study of a subject." For instance, when he was asked to recommend the best books for the study of the synoptic problem, he replied, "I should advise you to take your Greek Testament, and get your own view of the facts first of all" (Hort 2, pp. 368-69).
 

To avoid any possibility of confusion, "I should advise" is what we might call "The King's English" for "I would advise." These three passages from Hort's biography, far from having any "new age" implications, reveal that Hort was a wonderfully competent and dedicated teacher, and that his students appreciated him as such.

II.B. Examples of Riplinger's lack of familiarity.

II.B.1. Septuagint.

Such distortions of the truth as seen above depend for their success upon the reader's not having time or the necessary resources to evaluate them. Some other distortions are also due in part to Riplinger's own lack of familiarity with the subject of her attack. For example, in an almost hopelessly confused explanation, Riplinger attacks the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) as a work done by Origen sometime after the life of Christ (NEW AGE pp. 537 ff.). Her own confusion is reflected in the comments, "It appears that" Origen was the author, and, "Even the edition of The Septuagint marketed today points out in its preface that the stories surrounding its B.C. creation and existence are fables." In fact there are several editions of the Septuagint printed, and the standard edition is not that noted by Riplinger but one edited by Alfred Rahlfs and printed in Stuttgart. We do not know exactly when the Septuagint was produced, but there is little doubt that it was done during the third century B.C., and no doubt at all that it was done well before Christ's birth. One reason we know this to be true is that the New Testament writers often follow the Septuagint when they quote from the Old Testament. One of the more famous examples is Matt. 1:23, where Matthew uses the word "virgin" following the Septuagint; the Hebrew original is more ambiguous and can be translated "young woman."

The "fable" regarding the Septuagint is not when it was produced but the "miracle" of how 70 scholars worked independently and produced the exact same translation of the original Hebrew. As for Origen's Hexapla, Origen produced a six-column "parallel edition" of the Old Testament, one column of which was the already-existing Septuagint. The standard text of the Septuagint published today is based on manuscripts Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus (see below under "The Manuscript Issue"). Originally these manuscripts contained the entire Bible, and since the Septuagint was the standard Greek Old Testament text before Christ, it is only to be expected that they included the Septuagint.

The reader may well be at a loss to understand what Riplinger is trying to argue when she says, "Therefore, some New Testament quotes match the LXX because, as Carson writes, '[S]cholars have argued that Vaticanus [B] came from the same hand [as the LXX]'" (NEW AGE pp. 537-38). Perhaps she is implying that translators of modern versions have changed New Testament quotes to agree with the Septuagint (LXX) and/or Vaticanus. However, anyone who reads Greek will soon discover that in the KJV the New Testament writers quote the Septuagint just as often as they do in the modern versions. Thus, quotation of the Greek Old Testament instead of the Hebrew original is not a manuscript issue. The real question is, why do they do this? The answer is that the Septuagint was written by Jewish scholars for Jews who knew Greek but had forgotten their Hebrew (as a result of Alexander's conquests), and the Septuagint, like the KJV, was the best-known text of the Old Testament in its time.

Ms. Riplinger accuses translators today of using the Septuagint to alter the Masoretic Hebrew text, but as we have seen, she might as well accuse the New Testament authors (and thereby the Holy Spirit) of the same thing! Furthermore, the Masoretic scholars who edited the standard Hebrew text realized that there are variant readings in the Hebrew, and they referred to the Septuagint for help. Not that the Septuagint is inspired, but the Septuagint tells us how Hebrew scholars of the third century B.C. read and understood the Hebrew original. It bears repeating that no translation is or can be inspired, whether it is the Septuagint, the (Latin) Vulgate, the modern versions, or the KJV.

II.B.2. Manuscripts.

Elsewhere in NEW AGE, Ms. Riplinger apparently assumes that her readers simply will not notice errors or fallacies that are in plain sight on the pages of her book. For example, she provides charts on pp. 484-85 designed to show that papyri of the first to third centuries support the text behind the KJV (called the Byzantine or Byzantine text) rather than the fourth-century manuscripts considered by most scholars to be superior. A brief look at the chart reveals, however, that almost all of the papyri cited in support of the KJV also are found to side with the "New Versions" in various combinations for the verses she cites.

Other errors in these charts are not so obvious, however. For example, scholars such as Bruce Metzger (whom Riplinger cites on p. 483 in a way suggesting that he actually supports her argument) have observed that none of the papyri are distinctively "Byzantine." The papyrus P74 (cited for John 9:6) dates from the seventh century, not the third or earlier. In Mark 5:42 P45 agrees with the Byzantine text in one place but disagrees in another. For Luke 13:2 and 24:47, P75 agrees with the Byzantine text in one place and with Aleph and B (the chief Alexandrian manuscripts) in another; i.e. it twice changes sides within the same verse. Ironically, Riplinger condemns P75 on page 475 of NEW AGE because of its being an Alexandrian ("Minority") manuscript, even though she attempts to use it in her charts (p. 484) as support for the Byzantine text.

Ms. Riplinger's description of the manuscript tradition of John 7:39 must seem especially confusing to most readers, because she has P66 on both sides of the chart, as she does later for John 7:41 as well. The fact is that in John 7:39 P66 twice goes with Aleph to support a reading rejected by all the translations (including KJV), then supports B against the Byzantine text and Aleph for another reading, and finally P66 sides with the Byzantine text against P75 and a modified (i.e. corrected) version of itself. That is, a scribe made a correction in the text of P66, thereby leaving us two versions.

For John 12:9 Riplinger cites B2 as siding with the Byzantine text. What this actually means is that two corrections were made at this point in B (like the correction mentioned above for P66), and the second scribe changed the text to agree with the Byzantine text. The original version of B (which Riplinger fails to mention) agrees with Aleph. In John 13:36 P66 does not agree exactly either with the Byzantine text or B for one reading (contrary to Riplinger's claim), but later in the same verse it agrees with Aleph and B against the Byzantine text.

II.B.3. Misinterpretation of the Bible and theology.

II.B.3.a. "morning star" vs. "Lucifer" (KJV).

Many other Riplinger errors have to do with misinterpretation of the Bible and theology, often due to her misunderstanding of important terms in the Bible. For example, she criticizes new versions for having "morning star" instead of "Lucifer" in Isa. 14:12 (NEW AGE pp. 13-14; Riplinger does not name the verse, but this is the only place where "Lucifer" occurs in the KJV). It happens that the Hebrew word from which "Lucifer" or "star of the morning" is translated (helel) has the root meaning of "to give off light," or "to shine." It is used for the giving off of light by celestial bodies. Explained by the next phrase as "the son of the dawn" (NASB), it no doubt referred to the brightest star of the morning, i.e. Venus. The name "Lucifer" is Latin for "light-bearer" and was the Latin name for Venus. Thus the translation of the NASB ("star of the morning") which the marginal note explains as translating the Hebrew Helel, "shining one," not only accurately translates the Hebrew, but is similar to the meaning of the Latin translation ("Lucifer") used in the KJV.

II.B.3.b. "love" vs. "charity" (KJV).

In the same section of NEW AGE Riplinger treats the replacement of "charity" (KJV) with "love" in new versions as something sinister. In doing so she not only fails to recognize that "charity" meant Christian love (it came from the Latin word for the same), but also to see that "charity" has taken on a more prevalent meaning of donating to charitable causes, which would completely miss the point in the Biblical text.

II.B.3.c. NASB omits "fasting"?

In an attempt to make the case that the NASB omits fasting, Riplinger (NEW AGE p. 71) compares two references where the KJV has "fastings" and the NASB translates the same word as "hunger" (2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27). Riplinger interestingly does not point out that the NASB has "hunger." She simply indicates that it "omits" fasting with the apparent implication that the NASB is purposefully minimizing the practice of fasting with prayer. The fact of the matter is that the Greek word for "fasting" sometimes refers simply to hunger, and the context in both of the 2 Corinthians passages suggests that the hunger was due to the rigor and hardships of Paul's labor. Moreover, Riplinger also fails to mention that the practice of fasting is mentioned by name over twenty times in the NASB.

II.B.3.d. NASB and modern translations, deny human free will?

n NEW AGE pp. 90 ff. Riplinger uses the NASB translation of 1 Thess. 1:4, "He has chosen you," to support her claim that the new versions teach a sovereignty of God which denies human free will and thus teaches that good and evil come from God, like the New Age teaching of the One Absolute which contains both. She sets the NASB and other modern translations of this verse against the KJV which reads, "your election of God." To find a difference in the meaning of these translations, Riplinger apparently is taking the KJV to mean that man elects God, which is clearly not the meaning of the verse. The phrase "of God" (genitive case in Greek) indicates that God is the grammatical subject of the election, i.e. the one doing the electing, rather than the object or the one who is elected. In this instance the NASB makes the meaning of the Greek text (which is the same behind the KJV and the modern versions) clearer than the older translation of the KJV.

II.B.3.e. NASB and modern translations support some kind of "Mother Church" and the worship of a false Virgin goddess?

Riplinger tries to make the NASB and other modern versions support some kind of "Mother church" and the worship of a false Virgin goddess (NEW AGE pp. 108 f.). She refers specifically to the NASB translation of Eph. 5:25-27. In this passage the church is described as the bride of Christ and referred to three times as "her." Instead of "her" the KJV uses "it" in all three instances, probably referring to the church in a conventional way as an organization. The NASB and other modern versions are more accurate, because the words translated "her" are all third person feminine pronouns which perfectly correspond to the image of the bride in the passage.

II.B.3.f. "very religious" vs. "too superstitious" (KJV).

The use of "very religious" in Acts 17:22 (NASB and others) instead of "too superstitious" (KJV) is said to be a "hearty compliment" to idol worshippers. The Greek word itself means "fearful of a deity or demon" (not "devil" as Riplinger maintains on p. 118). While the KJV rendering may not be entirely wrong, to call someone "very religious" is not necessarily complimentary in Scripture, nor in the present time. The Scripture clearly portrays many as "very religious" and yet they do not know God. Even so, Paul would have driven all his listeners away if he had used a word at the beginning of his speech which overtly insulted them.

II.B.3.g. NKJV and NASB, bows to idols of false religions and promotes idolatry?

Riplinger recognizes that the NKJV has changed to the rendering of the newer versions in Acts 17:22 and reveals in her comment that this is not a matter of the different Greek texts; rather she makes it a charge of evil motives or perhaps deception by the enemy that she sees behind the modern versions including the New KJV. She says, "Here, as in many other places, the New King James Version (NKJV) bows down to the idol of a false religion" (p. 117). The assertion that the NASB rendering of 1 Cor. 8:4, "there is no such thing as an idol" promotes idolatry (p. 118) is a similar misrepresentation of the meaning of the NASB. The context includes several references to things sacrificed to "idols." Verse 4 is thus intended not to deny that there are idols, but rather that there is a genuine reality for which idols stood in distinction to the reality of the "one God."

II.B.3.h. "god of fortresses" vs. "God of forces" (KJV).

The absurdity of many of the statements in NEW AGE is exemplified in Riplinger's noting the difference in translations of Dan. 11:38 (NEW AGE pp. 124-25). The discussion at this point in Daniel concerns the final world ruler who magnifies himself above "every god." Because the NASB says that he will honor a "god of fortresses" instead of the KJV's "God of forces," the NASB and other new versions are said to "skew a true view, giving the OK to those who say, "May the force be with you" (p. 125).

II.B.3.i. Artemis vs. Diana (KJV).

In her determination to find evidence for the New Age tendencies of the new versions, Riplinger actually acknowledges the greater literalness of the NASB translation, exalting what she calls the "dynamic equivalency" of the KJV rendering of "Artemis" as "Diana" in Acts 19 (NEW AGE p. 127). Because she wants to warn the world of the New Age goddess who is known among other names as Diana, Riplinger is unhappy that the NASB renders the Greek name literally. She says, "The name Artemis, transliterated directly from the Greek bible into new versions, clearly identified the goddess to Greeks, but not to 'all Asia and the world' for whom the KJV is intended. The use of 'Diana' [KJV translation], a dynamic equivalency (translating a word as meant and not as written), shows the breadth of scholarship of the KJV translators." Such a statement should reinforce to the reader of NEW AGE that its author has an agenda that is not simply to compare the Greek manuscripts or the accuracy of their translations.

II.B.3.j. Riplinger misinterprets NASB figurative language as literal.

At times Riplinger interprets what is obviously intended by the NASB to be figurative language as literal, and totally misrepresents the intended meaning of the NASB so that she can make it fit something she sees in the New Age religion. An illustration of this practice is her treatment of Paul's statement, "I buffet my body" in 1 Cor. 9:27 (NEW AGE pp. 128-29). The use of the image of fighting (KJV) or boxing (NASB) in the context indicates that the apostle is not intending this language to be taken literally. Rather he is using the language of boxing to refer to his strong intention to discipline himself for the sake of his ministry. The Greek word translated "buffet" literally means "to strike under the eye" or "give a black eye to," not "keep down" as Riplinger implies (NEW AGE p. 129). Denying the obviously intended metaphorical meaning demanded by the context, Riplinger uses the NASB wording to say that the "new bible versions have adopted this pagan doctrine [self-flagellation]." Not only does she fail to recognize the meaning of the Greek term, but her failure to see the figurative meaning of the NASB seems deliberate in her attempt to find yet another supposed instance of the new versions' support of paganism.

II.B.3.k. Riplinger compares highly selective verses to build argument.

Riplinger frequently presents a highly selective comparison of verses to make it appear that the modern versions have omitted certain important truths, based on differences between them and the KJV. In these situations she picks out a verse in which some thought is not present or else is translated slightly differently in the NASB and other modern versions than it is in the KJV. She then uses these comparisons to make general charges that the NASB or other modern versions are attempting to subvert Christianity in favor of New Age teaching. Several examples will suffice to illustrate her technique.

II.B.3.l. "his[or "His"] kingdom" vs. "the kingdom of God" (KJV).

Based upon the fact that the new versions have "his [or "His"] kingdom" rather than "the kingdom of God" in certain texts, Riplinger charges that the lack of verbally identifying the kingdom as "of God" means that it is the kingdom of Satan which is described as "his kingdom" in Luke 11:18 (NEW AGE pp. 66-7). She does not mention the immediate context in which the NASB refers to the "kingdom of God" as opposed to "his [Satan's] kingdom" (verse 20). Instead, she cites Luke 12:31 where the NASB has "His kingdom" (note that "His" is capitalized to refer to God, but Riplinger misrepresents it as "his"). The antecedent of the pronoun "His" is clearly "your Father" in the previous verse (verse 30).

Furthermore, a quick count reveals that there are 69 references to "the kingdom of God" in the New Testament of the NASB. This hardly supports the contention that the NASB is attempting to eliminate the truth of the "kingdom of God" as opposed to the kingdom of Satan. The NASB's 69 references compares with a count of some 70 references to "the kingdom of God" in the KJV New Testament.

II.B.3.m. "the Father: [or "the Lord"] vs. "my father" [or "our father"] (KJV).

On page 61 of NEW AGE, Riplinger picks out some verses in which the NASB and other modern versions have "the Father" or "the Lord" instead of the KJV's "my Father" or "our Father." To assert from this that the NASB shows a "disdain for a father which is 'ours' alone" is absurd. Several of the references cited actually have the same Greek text behind both the KJV translation and that of the NASB. The difference is only in the translation of the same Greek words. For example, 1 Thess. 1:3 and 3:13 both have "the God and Father our" in the literal Greek. The fact that both "God" and "Father" follow only one "the" in the Greek means that both words refer to the same person, and the possessive pronoun "our" applies to both terms, i.e. God and Father (cf. A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. IV, The Epistles of Paul (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1931), p. 9). This is what the NASB means by "our God and Father" and what any reasonable person would assume it to mean. Moreover, we can probably assume that the KJV translators did not mean to make "our" refer only to "Father," since in that case we would evidently have four Persons in the Godhead: our Lord Jesus Christ, God, our Father, and the Holy Spirit, who is not mentioned in these verses; hmmm--does that mean there is no Holy Spirit? (This is an intentionally facetious question, which no reasonable person would take seriously.)

We should note in connection with this difference of translation between the NASB and the KJV that in other places the translation procedure used by the KJV actually diminishes the evidence for the deity of Christ. For example, in Titus 2:13 the same Greek text is the source both for the NASB and the KJV. Following the sequence of the wording found in 1 Thess. 1:3, the verse literally reads, "the great God and savior our Jesus Christ." The NASB translation, "our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus," shows more clearly by connecting the words "God and Savior" with the one pronoun "our" that they are both applied to the one person Christ Jesus. The KJV, on the other hand, could give the impression by its translation "the great God and our savior Jesus Christ" that God and the savior Jesus Christ are two different persons in this verse, and in fact some cult groups make this very argument to deny Christ's deity (cf. also the translation of KJV and NASB in 2 Pet. 1:1, 11).

Again, as in the case of the "kingdom of God" above, while there are a few instances where the Greek text behind the modern versions differs from the text behind the KJV in the use of the possessive pronouns with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the NASB retains numerous uses of the possessive pronouns (my, our) both with God, Father and Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, as we have noted above, the word "our" is used with God in the NASB where it is not in the KJV. The argument that the NASB is attempting by the occasional lack of the use of the possessive pronoun to deny the special relationship of the believer with God and Jesus and teach the universal Fatherhood of God is simply unfounded.

II.B.3.n. Luke 11:2 (NASB) does not contain "who is in heaven".

In Luke 11:2 the Lord's prayer begins in the NASB, "Father, hallowed be Thy name . . . ," without a phrase corresponding to the KJV's "which art in heaven". Riplinger attempts to line up the new versions with new age thought in which a God "in heaven" is said to be "not consistent with New Age pantheists . . ." (p. 65).

This is typically deceptive criticism. The NASB has the phrase in the Lord's Prayer in Matt. 6:9. Moreover, the very references that Riplinger uses from the KJV to teach that heaven is the dwelling place of God (Matt. 5:34, 45; Mark 1:11) all contain the same reference to God in heaven in the NASB. The reason the NASB does not have "who is in heaven" in Luke 11:2 is simply that the best manuscripts do not have it. It is interesting that P75, one of the manuscripts which Riplinger tries to portray as being supportive of the Textus Receptus (NEW AGE pp. 482 ff.), does not have the phrase in this important verse. Furthermore, the Sinaitic Syriac version does not have it, and the church fathers Tertullian, Origen, and Cyril all quote Luke 11:2 without the phrase. These are all early witnesses to whom Riplinger points as attesting to KJV-type readings in the early church (NEW AGE 488 f.). Apparently they are "new agers" ahead of their time, and the early church itself was already infected with new age pantheism!

II.B.3.o. "fruit of the light" vs. "fruit of the Spirit" (KJV).

In another attempt to prove that the NASB is in league with New Age thought, Riplinger refers to the difference between the new versions and the KJV in Eph. 5:9 where the latter reads, "fruit of the Spirit" and the NASB and others read, "fruit of the light." She writes, "Again, new versions instruct their readers to join ranks with the New Age, calling for the 'fruit of light', not the fruit of the Spirit. Even the testimony of scripture itself in Galatians 5:22 confirms that it is the 'fruit of the Spirit'"(NEW AGE p. 114). In making this charge Riplinger completely ignores the context of Eph. 5 which, according to both the KJV and the modern versions, is filled with references to "light" and "darkness" (cf. vv. 8-14). While in Gal. 5 the distinction is between the product of the "flesh" and "Spirit," in Eph. 5 the distinction is between "darkness" and "light." In verse 8 believers are called "light" and "children of light." They are then urged to have "the fruit of light." Thus not only is the external textual evidence for "light" in verse 9 superior to the KJV reading, but the internal contextual support is also supportive of the NASB rendering.

More importantly, the use of the difference in this particular instance where the modern versions have "light" and the KJV does not to support a charge of New Age thought is typical of Riplinger's methodology. Without noting that all versions of the Bible including the KJV refer positively to "light" both in relationship to God and to the believer, Riplinger picks out this isolated difference to make a sweeping charge against the modern versions.

II.B.3.p. The new translations support the Romanizing of the church?

Charging that the new versions push for a reunion under Romanism, Riplinger cites Rev. 2:15 which teaches Jesus' hatred for the teaching of the Nicolaitans (NEW AGE p. 143). This teaching has been understood as signifying the rulership of a "clergy" class over the so-called laity or the "people" of the church. Thus this verse is cited by Riplinger as a reference against the Roman Catholic priesthood. The KJV reading of Rev. 2:15 refers to "the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (misspelled by Riplinger), which thing I hate." Because the words "which thing I hate" are not in the NASB and other modern versions, Riplinger accuses these versions of supporting the Romanizing of the church. However, not only does she fail to note the negative context with its call for repentance, she chooses to ignore the fact that in verse 6 of the same chapter, the NASB reads, "Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." So the same words describing the Lord's hatred of the things of the Nicolaitans are in fact found in the NASB.

II.B.3.q. "My Chosen One" vs. "My beloved" (KJV).

In an attempt to show that the NASB and other new versions support the new age teaching of "the One" as opposed to Jesus Christ, Riplinger depicts the NASB as having "My Chosen One" in Luke 9:35 while the KJV has "my Beloved Son." Actually the NASB reads, "This is My Son, My Chosen One." The difference is in the description "My Chosen One" versus "my Beloved." If Riplinger had cited the entire verse, the NASB identity of "the Chosen One" with "My Son" would have been evident.

II.B.3.r. "one" vs. "he" (KJV).

One of Riplinger's great concerns is the New Age teaching of a Coming One (NEW AGE pp. 90 ff.). Because the NASB and other versions use "one" in some places where KJV has "he," Riplinger charges that the new versions are in line with the New Age teaching of "the Coming One" or the "One" who is the final anti-God. Interestingly, along with citing references in which the "new versions" use "One," she also includes some in which the KJV uses the same translation. For example, Mark 1:7 is cited from the new versions (in this instance the NASB) as "after me One is coming who is mightier than I." The KJV is also cited as "There cometh one mightier than I after me" (the parallels from Luke 3:16 are also cited). It is difficult to understand Riplinger's reasoning here. Both the KJV and the NASB use "one mightier" in the translation of the same Greek words which are an adjective, "mighty" in the comparative form, i.e. "mightier" with a masculine article.

The same similarity is seen in the references noted by Riplinger in Matt. 23:8-10. Why she would accuse the NASB and other versions for using "one" and then show that the KJV does the same is difficult to comprehend. Apparently she does not like the capitalization of the "One" in the NASB, which was used to indicate the deity of this one. Later in NEW AGE (p. 487) the term "One" in Luke 24:5 is absurdly attacked as a reference to the "impersonal One" of Hinduism, and any reader must be at a complete loss to imagine what Riplinger is seeing in the text. In verses 38 ff. in the NASB, we find Jesus calming and comforting His disciples, certainly not what we would expect of the Hindu idea of deity.

The NASB uses "one" instead of personal pronouns in some instances where the Greek text has constructions other than the Greek personal pronouns. For instance, in John 4:25 the Greek texts of the KJV and the NASB are identical. The word translated by the NASB as "that One" is a demonstrative pronoun and not a personal pronoun. In Acts 22:9 (cited on p. 116) the Greek words involved are a participle ("speaking") and a masculine article ("the One"). While both of these different Greek constructions can be translated by the masculine pronoun "he" or "the one," the NASB translators apparently sought to differentiate as much as possible between those instances where the personal pronoun was present in the Greek text (i.e. the Greek words for "he," or "she") and where some other construction such as the demonstrative pronoun ("that one") or a participle construction was used without the personal pronoun. Riplinger refers to "the neuter 'One'," apparently misunderstanding or misinterpreting "one" always to be neuter. Clearly this is not necessarily the case. When one asks the question, "Who was the one who did this?" the reference is obviously to a person.

II.B.3.s. "the Christ" (NASB), "a position not a person"?

In regard to Luke 24 again, Riplinger also protests the NASB's "the Christ" (vv. 26 and 46) as referring to "a position not a person" (NEW AGE p. 487). Yet in Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20 Peter confesses Jesus as "the Christ" both in the KJV and the NASB. Does he mean that Christ is a position and not a person? Furthermore, are we really to believe from Riplinger's interpretation of Luke 24:51 in the NASB that Christ did not ascend but went to India, or Africa? Even when the NASB has entitled this section "The Ascension"? Her other criticisms similarly betray a biased neglect of the immediate context.

II.B.3.t. "having His name and the name of His father written on their foreheads" vs. "having his Father's name written in their foreheads" (KJV).

A total misunderstanding and consequent false charge against the NASB and other modern versions is made in relation to the difference in their texts and that of the KJV at Rev. 4:1. Instead of the KJV reading, "having His Father's name written in their foreheads," the NASB has, "having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads." After citing Rev. 13:16 which speaks of the name and number of the beast (the antichrist), Riplinger then refers to "the fatefully frightening addition of three words ("his name and") in Rev. 14:1." She then goes on to ask, "Will the unwary, reading Revelation 14:1 in a recent version, be persuaded that the bible sanctions and encourages the taking of 'his name' on their forehead before they receive his Father's name? . . . Will 'another Jesus' (II Corinthians 11:4) brand his followers with the mark of the beast, after 'his ministers' (II Corinthians 11:5) have prodded them with skewed bible verses?" (pp. 99-100).

Riplinger's discussion obviously suggests that the additional words "His name" support the taking of the mark of the beast and the worship of the antichrist (cf. p. 17). That "His name" refers to the name of the Lamb who is mentioned earlier in the verse is very clear. Moreover, the idea that believers will have both the name of the Christ and the Father is taught earlier in Rev. 3:12 in the KJV as well as in the NASB and other versions.

II.C. Misquotes and incomplete citings.

Often Riplinger tries to create a sinister appearance by misquoting the NASB and other modern versions or by failing to completely cite the text in question. In a charts comparing the KJV, the new versions and New Age/Last Days thought, the attempt is made to line up the KJV against the latter two on several topics. In these comparisons some gross errors are made in order to discredit the modern versions.

II.C.1. NASB omits "mystery"?

In a chart on page 19 of NEW AGE, the new versions are said to omit "mystery" in connection with Babylon (Rev. 17). In fact, the NASB has "a name was written, a mystery, BABYLON," not merely "BABYLON" as Riplinger maintains. Beyond the error, it is not clear as to how this comparison relates to new age thought.

II.C.2. "Father (omits remainder)", a real comparison?

With regard to the Lord's prayer, the chart shows the KJV saying: "Our Father, which art in heaven. . .thy will be done as in heaven so in earth. . .but deliver us from evil." The new versions and new age columns read "Father (omit remainder)," suggesting that all of what was cited from the KJV beyond "Father" is omitted in the new versions. How such a patently false comparison could be stated is difficult to understand. Ms. Riplinger must believe that her readers are too busy reading her book to read the Bible.  

II.C.3. The new translations omit certain teachings about the identity of Jesus Christ?

In the chart (p. 20) dealing with the identity of Jesus Christ, the new versions are shown as omitting certain teaching about the identity of Jesus Christ. They are accused of omitting the teaching that Jesus Christ is "Alpha and Omega," "equal with God," "God," "the creator," "(coeternal with God)," "virgin born," "rose from the dead," and "ascended into heaven." Every one of these teachings is clearly found in the modern versions including the NASB, e.g. "Alpha and Omega" (Rev. 22:13) and God (John 1:1, 18 where Jesus is called the "only begotten God" in distinction to the KJV where he is termed "only begotten Son").

III. THE REAL ISSUE -- THE MANUSCRIPT ISSUE.

Much more could be said about Riplinger's analysis, but it is probably clear at this point that she has an agenda that is far more important to her than an objective presentation of the facts. Also, many hours could be spent tracking down (due largely to NEW AGE's faulty documentation) and analyzing the sources of Riplinger's errors and distortions as has been done above; but it would not be the best use of valuable time. It is far better to move on to the real issues, responding to criticism only in relation to those issues.

The most controversial difference between the vast majority of Bible translations done in the twentieth century and the KJV is the fact that the KJV is based upon a Greek text of the New Testament which differs somewhat from the oldest Greek manuscripts. This Greek text is often called the "Textus Receptus" (Latin for "Received Text"), or "Byzantine text" (because it was the dominant text in the Byzantine Empire), or the "Majority Text" (because the majority of Greek manuscripts in existence today are of this type). Except for those which pattern themselves after the KJV, the modern translations are based on a Greek text of the New Testament which in turn is derived from the oldest manuscripts. These two Greek texts do not differ greatly; indeed, in the vast majority of cases they agree exactly. On any given page of approximately 200 total words, one would probably find five to ten variations. For this reason, advocates of the Byzantine Text could correctly state that it is supported by the oldest manuscripts in most places. To serious Bible students and scholars, however, it is important to determine what the original text of the Bible is, down to the last word.

If the differences between the Byzantine Text and the older manuscripts are emphasized, then it is possible to identify--in general terms--two different types of Greek text: the Byzantine Text and what are usually called the Alexandrian manuscripts. One could (and many do) also speak of the latter as the Alexandrian Text type, but due to various complications in the history of textual criticism it seems to have become commonplace to refer vaguely to the older Greek text simply as "the Alexandrian manuscripts," or by either of its two modern editors and publishers: the Nestle-Aland text or the United Bible Societies' text. The current standard text for most scholars is the Nestle-Aland 26th edition, with the 27th edition becoming available soon, promising more extensive notes.

III.A. The Byzantine Text.

The Byzantine Text had its beginnings in Syria when a Bible scholar named Lucian who had studied at a famous theological school in Antioch revised the Greek Old and New Testaments from a collection of manuscripts available to him. That is, rather than copying one original manuscript, Lucian (perhaps with help from others) seems to have consulted several different manuscripts in the process of compiling a new one. This was probably done early in the fourth century (Lucian was martyred in 312). From there the manuscript was taken to Constantinople, where it was widely distributed throughout the Byzantine empire (thus the name "Byzantine" text). As time went on, thousands of copies were made and in fact 90 percent of the Greek New Testament manuscripts existing today are of this type. Almost all of them were produced after the sixth century within the Byzantine Empire, since by this time Greek was scarcely understood outside the Empire and Moslem conquests had greatly reduced the numbers of Christians beyond the Empire as well.

It is sometimes asked what evidence there really is that Lucian did such a revision. The most important direct evidence comes from the fourth-century church father Jerome, who makes several remarks about Lucian in his own works. In his Preface to the Four Gospels, Jerome criticizes Lucian and another scholar, Hesychius, for editing the Scripture. Later, in his preface to the books of Chronicles, Jerome remarks that from Constantinople to Antioch the Greek Old Testament of Lucian meets with approval. In another work written shortly after 392, Jerome praises Lucian and comments that Lucian worked so hard in the study of the Scriptures that even at that time some copies of the Scriptures still bear his name. In a letter written about 11 years later, Jerome tells two Bible students that there is one edition "...which Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, and all Greek commentators call koine--i.e. common--and widespread, and is now called 'Lucianic' by most people."

It was not until 1516, 63 years after the fall of Constantinople, that a printed Greek New Testament was actually published, and this was done by the famous Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus. At that time Erasmus had only a handful of Greek manuscripts to work with, none of which were earlier than the twelfth century, and none of them contained the entire New Testament. He managed to compose most of the New Testament from two of the manuscripts, and attempted to fill in gaps by using the others. Unfortunately the only manuscript Erasmus had of Revelation was one missing the last six verses, and for this portion he was forced to translate the Latin Vulgate Bible into Greek. Occasionally he translated material from the Latin Bible into other passages as well.

Erasmus' first edition was produced very quickly and contained hundreds of typographical errors. Ultimately he published four other editions, the last of them in 1535. Over the next 63 years new editions were published by Robert Estienne (also known as Stephanus), Jean Crispin, and Theodore Beza. Beza published nine editions himself, and his tenth edition was published posthumously in 1611, six years after his death. Few of the editions produced by any of these men differed much from Erasmus'. Beza had manuscripts which were not available to Erasmus, but due to the popularity of the Greek text that had originated with Erasmus he incorporated little material from them into his own text. The translators of the King James Version depended largely upon Beza's editions of 1588-9 and 1598.

The "Textus Receptus" is not in fact identical to the text from which the King James was translated, even though the "TR" and the KJV are normally associated with each other. The origin of the term "Textus Receptus" is that in 1624 (thirteen years after the publication of the King James) and 1633 the brothers Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir published two Greek New Testaments which were based on Beza's earlier 1565 edition. In their preface to the second edition they wrote in Latin, "Therefore you have the text which is now received by all...." The Latin words for "text" and "received" are Textum and receptum respectively, which have since been combined to form the title "Textus Receptus."

Given the history of the King James Version and what is now usually called the Byzantine Text, is it correct to say that the KJV is a translation of the Byzantine Text? In a practical sense, yes. Anyone who examines an edition of the Greek New Testament containing textual notes will find that, except in Revelation, the King James normally has the wording found in the Byzantine Text. However, we need to remember that the King James translators were following a Greek text based on very few manuscripts, not the thousands of Byzantine manuscripts that have been discovered since that time. As can be expected, the Byzantine manuscripts themselves differ from each other. For example, in Acts 3:22 many of them read "your God" and many others read "our God". The King James follows the reading "your God". Granting differences like this and the fact that the King James translators had very limited resources to work with, it can be said that the KJV is based on the Byzantine Text.

As for the Byzantine Text itself, is there value in the fact that this text exists in thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament? This is often used as an argument to support the theory that the Byzantine Text is better than the early manuscripts. Certainly we can say that there are more than enough manuscripts available to establish the wording of the Byzantine Text. However, the sheer number of manuscripts does nothing to establish the value of the Byzantine Text itself. If thousands or even millions of copies are made of a manuscript which is itself an undocumented compilation of other manuscripts differing between themselves, we are no closer to the original manuscripts than if we had only a few copies.

To draw an analogy from modern technology, suppose someone attempted to compile a single news report of an event from five different sources, with the goal of preserving all of the information given from the different sources, right or wrong. Then suppose that this person made 5,000 photocopies for distribution. Since the photocopies would be exact duplicates, any one of them would show us exactly what was in the original report, and the fact that we had so many would be irrelevant. Suppose, however, that 100 typists were hired to type 50 copies each instead of having the original photocopied. In that case, we would have a better chance of determining the wording of the original from 5,000 copies, if we carefully compared them and identified various patterns and errors, than if we had only five. In either case, however, the best that we could do would be to establish the wording of the original compiled report. If our task were to determine the wording of each of the five different sources from which the report was compiled, establishing the exact text of the compiled report would have little value in comparison to having one or two of the five original sources; in the latter case we could at least compare the report with the sources we had and determine what was not originally in those sources.

Now suppose our editor stored the five sources from which he compiled his report in a vault, and they were accidentally discovered by an archaeologist 500 years later. By that time the compiled report would have been in circulation for so long that it would have been accepted as the "standard" account of the event (one might call it the "accepted text"). It might have "stood the test of time" and have been read by millions of people through mass publication, but historians of the event reported would only be interested in the five sources from which it was compiled. Finally, suppose that, upon careful examination of the sources, it became evident that they were all hand-written copies of one original eye-witness account. The greatest service to the public would be for historians to publish the five sources and piece together the original account by using scientific research methods and common sense.

This is similar to what has happened with the manuscripts of the New Testament. God has miraculously preserved His Word far beyond what could be expected from the use of fallible human hands, and in relatively recent years He has brought to light wonderful ancient manuscripts which give further testimony to the accuracy and truth of the Bible. It happens that the timing of these great discoveries generally coincides with modern critical attacks upon the Bible. The critics can justifiably question the reliability of late manuscripts which form the basis of the Byzantine text, but they have no objective or scientific basis to disparage the early manuscripts.

Of course there continue to be those who doggedly (and often militantly) insist upon the superiority of the Byzantine text despite evidence to the contrary. What would have to be different about the Byzantine text manuscripts to give the text more credibility? First, they would have to be much older than they are; more specifically, at least some of them would need to have been produced before the fourth century in order to challenge the evidence that the Byzantine text was a revision based on several different manuscripts. A few scholars have argued that there are early (e.g. second-century) manuscripts with Byzantine text readings. But other scholars such as Bruce Metzger (THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, p. 293) have pointed out that none of these early manuscripts have enough Byzantine readings to be considered representatives of the Byzantine text. Indeed, in our discussion of Riplinger's book above, we have already seen how some early papyri alleged to be Byzantine agree with the Byzantine text in one place and soon go against it in another.

Second, the wording of Byzantine text manuscripts (where they disagree with early manuscripts) would have to show significant independence from the early manuscripts. As it stands, when the manuscripts disagree (remember that they usually agree), the Byzantine text seldom fails to have a reading that is easier to understand in the context or longer, thus indicating that it is a "correction" or "clarification" of one or more of the early manuscripts. On the surface, an easier reading, i.e. one that appears to make more sense or is less challenging theologically, may seem preferable. But if the difference between the manuscripts is clearly a deliberate change of wording and not just a slip of the stylus, common sense and due regard for a scribe's intelligence argue that the easier reading is not the original.

A famous example of the Byzantine text's offering an easier reading is found in Acts 6:8: "And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people" (NASB). The NASB and other modern translations have "full of grace and power" in Acts 6:8, while the King James has "full of faith and power". The issue, then, is whether Luke originally wrote "grace" or "faith." It happens that the early manuscripts have "grace," many Byzantine or Byzantine text manuscripts have "faith," another Byzantine manuscript has "grace and faith," and still another manuscript has "faith and grace of the Spirit". The words "grace" and "faith" are no more spelled alike in Greek than they are in English, so this appears to be a deliberate change by someone. "Faith" makes more sense in the context (it is easier to connect with miracles), especially since Luke has just described Stephen in verse 5 as being "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit".

Another kind of intentional change made to create an easier reading is that of making parallel passages in different books look the same, or "harmonizing" the passages. This does away with what some might see as a problem in explaining the differences. That is, whenever an Old Testament verse is not quoted the same way in the New Testament, or the same statement made by the same person is not quoted identically in the Gospels, a scribe or copyist may be tempted to change the quotation(s) so that each version agrees with the other(s). In Matt. 15:8, for example, the early manuscripts have "This people honors me with their lips,..." while the Byzantine text has "This people draws near to me with their mouth and honors me with their lips,..." in order to complete the quotation from Isa. 29:13. The fact that Matthew modified the original Isaiah passage in other ways (e.g. "But in vain they worship me..." in place of "And their fear of me is...") indicates that he did not mean to quote the passage verbatim.

An example of harmonizing passages in the Gospels can be found in Matt. 19:17, where the early manuscripts have "Why do you ask me about the good?" In the Byzantine text the question has been changed to "Why do you call me good?" to make it agree with Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19. The difference in meaning between Matthew's wording and that of Mark and Luke is significant, so it is easy to understand that a scribe would be tempted to change Matthew to agree with the other two Gospels or vice versa. Moreover, it would be more practical to change the one manuscript and, perhaps more importantly, the question found in the other two Gospels goes better with what immediately follows ("There is One who is good").

Should we not choose the reading that fits the context better or is more harmonious with other passages? Some scholars would take this approach and ignore evidence from all the manuscripts. In fact, one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, created his own version of the New Testament by excising passages which he considered unworthy of Christ (one might say that his intentions were good). Certainly we should interpret any passage according to its context, but it is a different thing to change the text of Scripture based on our interpretation of the context, or in order to solve an apparent problem. If we were to accommodate such an approach, then there would be countless additional versions of the Greek New Testament, all of them containing words not found in any Greek manuscript. Is this what early scribes who hand-copied manuscripts were doing? No doubt they did this in some cases, since they knew that the manuscript from which they were copying might be incorrect at any point. We can probably sympathize with them, but our vastly greater resources of manuscripts to work with obligates us to take a far more conservative approach.
 

So then, the Byzantine text has the appearance of a text that was deliberately edited to make it easier to understand and to eliminate apparent problems. In various places it also combines two or more different readings into one (called "conflate" readings), as someone might do if he were afraid of leaving out the original reading by choosing one version over another. For example, in Matt. 10:3 the Alexandrian manuscripts Aleph and B (see below on the "Alexandrian Manuscripts") have "Thaddaeus" after "James the son of Alphaeus and," and another important manuscript (D, the "western" text) has "Lebbaeus." The Byzantine text combines the two versions in "Lebbaeus who was surnamed Thaddaeus". One might argue that earlier manuscripts accidentally left out one name or the other (to do so deliberately would be irrational), but it is more logical to explain the Byzantine text as an effort to avoid the apparent contradiction in manuscripts, since otherwise one must also explain what happened to the phrase "who was surnamed."

As another example, in Luke 24:53 Aleph and B have "blessing," D has "praising," and the Byzantine text has "praising and blessing". Again, one could argue theoretically that the longer Byzantine text is the original, but then we must assume that some early manuscripts accidentally left out "praising and," while others instead left out "and blessing". There is no reason to change the text deliberately if the Byzantine reading is the original; doing this would in fact create a problem where none existed before.

In other passages with similar disagreements between manuscripts, the Byzantine text typically presents a convenient solution. Unfortunately, if the solution is to creatively combine two or more readings of which only one is correct, the solution will necessarily be wrong. So to say that a given conflate reading in a manuscript may be correct is like saying that the Internal Revenue Service may not notice if you neglect to file your tax returns for a few years; true, it could happen--but fill out your returns just in case (and set something aside for late penalties).

III.B. The Alexandrian Manuscripts.

The manuscripts that are loosely called "Alexandrian" became available to scholars beginning with the close of the 19th century, due in part to the use of photographic reproduction. Some of them have colorful histories of discovery, while others came to the public eye simply as a result of being purchased for a museum or by other rather ordinary means. Their diverse histories make it clear that, while the hand of God was undoubtedly moving to reveal them, there were no "conspiracies" behind their publication as has sometimes been suggested by militant Textus Receptus advocates. On the contrary, there seem to have been deliberate attempts to keep some of the manuscripts concealed from the public, as will be seen below.

In general, ancient manuscripts can be divided into three categories: papyri (e.g. "P75"), uncials (e.g. "B" or "Vaticanus"), and minuscules (numbered "1," "2," etc. up to about 2800). Papyri are usually the oldest manuscripts (typically third century A.D.), then come the uncials, and then minuscles. The minuscles are the manuscripts that are typically very late (after the tenth century) and usually have the Byzantine text type. In one sense, the papyri are the most valuable because of their age; but their practical value is limited by the fact that they tend to be fragmentary, often just a few mutilated pages or even just a few verses or less.

To establish the text of the New Testament, we rely primarily upon uncials which come from the fourth and fifth centuries and together contain the New Testament. Their value in representing early texts of the New Testament is confirmed in many places by their agreement with early papyri (this is perhaps the chief practical value of the papyri). These uncials are the primary objects of attention and criticism among advocates of the Byzantine text and the King James Version.

The crown jewel of the important uncials is B, also called codex Vaticanus (a codex is an ancient form of book). Its name comes from the fact that it is possessed by the Vatican Library at Rome. This is only its current residence, however; the type of text that it contains indicates that it was produced in about the middle of the fourth century at Alexandria in Egypt.

While no one knows for sure where B was housed before the 15th century, it has probably been at the Vatican since at least 1475. The Old Testament portion of the manuscript was used when a copy of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) was produced in 1587, but nothing from the New Testament was published. Napoleon later brought to Paris, and upon its return to Rome the Vatican apparently planned to publish it but never did. During the same time Vatican authorities refused to grant foreign scholars access to the manuscript.

Two scholars did eventually gain some access to B, one of whom was Constantin Tischendorf. In 1843 he was forced to wait for several months, and then he was permitted only to examine the manuscript for six hours. Two years later Samuel Tregelles was allowed to see the manuscript, but was forbidden to make any copies and had to empty his pockets to prove that he had no pen or ink. The Vatican did publish two editions later in 1857 and '59, but they differed so much from each other that they were not considered reliable.

In 1866 Tischendorf again was allowed to see the manuscript, this time for 42 hours spread over two weeks. However, he violated his agreement with the Vatican and copied twenty full pages, and as a result the manuscript was taken away from him. Later in 1867 he succeeded in publishing an edition of it. It was not until 1889-90, however, that a complete photographic facsimile was published which provided scholars with an accurate knowledge of the codex. It has gained great respect among scholars as perhaps the best Alexandrian manuscript, in large part because evidence from papyri and other sources confirms that it represents a very old (second- to third-century) text of the New Testament.

Probably the next uncial manuscript to be mentioned by degree of importance is Aleph (the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet), also known as codex Sinaiticus. The latter name comes from the fact that it was discovered at the monastery of St. Catherine which is located at the foot of Mount Sinai. Here Tischendorf played an even greater role in bringing the manuscript to light.

Tischendorf first saw Aleph when he visited the monastery in 1844. During the visit he noticed pages of vellum (a kind of parchment) in a trash-basket which, he learned, were going to be used as fuel in the furnace. He was also told that two baskets-full had already been burned. Tischendorf persuaded the monks to let him have 43 of the pages, which were all from the Old Testament, and not to burn the rest. He presented the 43 pages to his patron, the King of Saxony, and the pages were placed in the University Library at Leipzig.

Tischendorf returned to St. Catherine's in 1853 but could not find out anything about the manuscript. Six years later he visited again, and on the final evening of his visit he showed the steward a copy of the Septuagint that he had recently published. The steward commented that he also had a copy of the Septuagint, and from his closet he brought out a stack of vellum pages wrapped in red cloth. Tischendorf immediately recognized that it was the manuscript he had seen years before, and while trying not to appear too anxious, he asked and was granted permission to study the manuscript overnight. He soon discovered that it contained another 199 pages of the Old Testament (in addition to the 43 he already had acquired), and the entire New Testament. After staying up all night reading the manuscript (he remarked in his diary, in Latin, that it seemed sinful to sleep), he asked permission to take it with him to Cairo to be copied. One of the monks objected, so Tischendorf had to go on to Cairo without the manuscript.

It happened that the abbott of the monastery was also in Cairo at the time, and Tischendorf persuaded him to send for the manuscript so that he could copy it. At some point Tischendorf offered to buy the manuscript but was refused. He then came up with the idea of suggesting to the monks at Sinai that they offer the manuscript to the Czar of Russia as a gift. This appealed to them because a new Archbishop was going to be elected, and the Czar, as patron of the Greek Church, was in the position to influence the election in their favor. The gift was made, and eventually (1862) the text of the manuscript was published at the Czar's expense. A facsimile edition was published still later in 1911 (New Testament) and 1922 (Old Testament) by Oxford University Press.

Like B, Aleph was probably written about the middle of the fourth century and is generally Alexandrian, though it also has some "Western" readings (see below). B and Aleph together were considered by Westcott and Hort (discussed below) to be virtually identical to the original text whenever the two manuscripts have the same readings, which is almost always the case. Since 1933 Aleph has been the property of the British Museum.

Though it is not as valuable overall as B or Aleph, A, also called codex Alexandrinus, is another important uncial manuscript. It dates from the fifth century and was published as a photographic reproduction in 1879-83. Like B and Aleph, the manuscript seems to have been produced in Egypt, but it varies in text-type. In the Gospels it is the oldest representative of the Majority (Byzantine) Text, while it is Alexandrian elsewhere. It resides at the British Museum together with Aleph.

Many other uncial manuscripts could be described, but probably the only one that compares in practical importance to those already mentioned is D, codex Bezae. It is the main representative of the Western text-type, so-called because there are indications that the text might have been produced and circulated in northern Africa. D is strikingly different from other manuscripts in that it freely adds words, sentences, and even accounts of events not found in the other manuscripts. For example, at the end of Matt. 20:28 D adds an additional warning by Jesus to the disciples to be humble and not take the best seat at a dinner party (as in Luke 14:10 f.). These words are not found either in the Alexandrian manuscripts or in the Byzantine text.

D appears to be a fifth- or sixth-century manuscript. It was given to the library of Cambridge University in 1581 by the famous French scholar Theodore Bezae, and was eventually published in facsimile form in 1899.

III.C. Critical Editions of The Greek New Testament.

The discovery and publication of early manuscripts of the Greek New Testament is only part of the story and controversy over the manuscript issue. The other part is what scholars did with the new discoveries. The names B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort are virtually synonymous with the controversy, but before them there were other scholars who laid part of the foundation. One was Johann Bengel who in 1725 published a vitally important essay on textual criticism. In it he made the observation that a scribe is more likely to change a difficult reading to an easier one than the reverse, and so the difficult is more likely to be the original. We previously alluded to this and other criteria when we discussed easier and conflate readings in relation to the Byzantine text.

Another important scholar, Johann Wettstein, published an edition of the Greek New Testament in 1751-2. In an appendix he discussed various criteria, among which was the admonition that manuscripts must be evaluated by weight, not by number. In other words (as seen in our earlier illustration), it is how close a manuscript or text-type is to the original, as can be determined by its age and style, that matters--not how many copies there happen to be that have the same text.

In effect then, Westcott and Hort were following trails already blazed by others when in 1881 they published a critical edition of the Greek New Testament, after working on it for approximately 28 years. Such editions are called "critical" because they take into account the various manuscript readings and carefully evaluate them to determine which is the original. The criteria used in evaluating the readings obviously are crucial, and Westcott and Hort, together with scholars before them, established procedures that most scholars since have essentially followed.

The most controversial aspect of the work of Westcott and Hort was their appraisal of manuscripts Aleph (Sinaiticus) and B (Vaticanus). Virtually all scholars recognize the great value of these two manuscripts, but Westcott and Hort, as noted above, declared that whenever Aleph and B have the same reading (they do not disagree often) this reading probably should be accepted as the original. They also said that one has to have strong reasons to reject such a reading. For example, on rare occasions the reading of Aleph and B is significantly longer than that found in the Western text and appears to be an expansion of the original (a phenomenon more typical of the Byzantine text). Westcott and Hort went so far as to label the combination of Aleph and B (together with other manuscripts in agreement with them) the "Neutral" text, meaning the text which is most free of changes from the original. Even so, they determined that in nine verses the Western text was preferable, and called its readings in these verses "non-interpolations"--meaning that the Western text uncharacteristically had the shorter, correct reading.

Their appraisal of the Syrian (Byzantine) text-type, in comparison to the other texts, understandably brought upon Westcott and Hort anathemas from advocates of the Textus Receptus. Simply put, Westcott and Hort maintained that the Syrian text, inferior as it was, had only to be identified and then should be ignored in the process of determining the original. Hort described the Syrian text in unflattering terms, saying that it was better used for casual reading and recitation than for serious study.

III.D. The Greek New Testament Today.

Since the end of the 19th century many editions of the Greek New Testament have been produced which are based in part or whole upon that of Westcott and Hort. Thus, with the exception of Greek New Testaments based on the Byzantine text, the Alexandrian manuscripts have tended to dominate. But few if any modern scholars would admit to being in complete agreement with the conclusions of Westcott and Hort. To argue that any text-type or family of manuscripts can legitimately be called a "neutral" text, as though it were virtually free of changes or modifications of the original, is seen as naive and subjective. In practice, however, when the different manuscripts have different readings, B and Aleph together are usually preferred because of the quality of their text and the likelihood that theirs is the (original) reading which in later manuscripts was changed.

As indicated earlier, the chief modern publications are THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT (hereafter GNT, published by United Bible Societies) and NOVUM TESTAMENTUM GRAECE (NA for Nestle-Aland, the editors).

Until 1975, GNT and NA occasionally differed from each other in their respective texts and notes. This was due to differences of opinion among the editors regarding manuscript issues. Both publications included notes documenting the various readings among the manuscripts. However, GNT was produced primarily with Bible translators in mind and for that reason (rightly or wrongly) did not include notes on all the textual variants, while NA did, in a necessarily compact and complicated format.

Armed with this information, anyone who knows ancient Greek can make his or her own decisions about the original text. Most of us rely upon the judgment of Bible translators knowledgeable both in Greek and textual criticism to make these decisions for us carefully and prayerfully, and to let us know what their options were if the difference in meaning is at all significant. Bible scholars have often stated, and correctly so, that there are no differences between the manuscripts which could change any important doctrine or belief.

Changes in the text of the Greek testament occur infrequently and collectively amount to a very small percentage of the whole. Since they are seldom meaningful changes within a given context, the most compelling reason to make them is that the editors and ultimately the translators have a spiritual obligation to provide their readers with the most accurate translation of the word of God. But even in its least accurately translated form (excluding mistranslation by cults, etc.), God is and always has been using His word powerfully throughout history.

Granting, then, that changes are sometimes made, the fact that 26 editions of NA and three of GNT have been published is used by G. A. Riplinger to create the impression that the text of these Greek New Testaments is unstable, while that of the Byzantine text has remained unchanged. The truth of the matter is that many changes have occurred in both texts as a result of new manuscript discoveries and reevaluation of passages where alternative readings exist. Indeed, the differences between the manuscripts originally used for the KJV and the present Byzantine text are so significant that thoughtful advocates of the latter distinguish between it and the "traditional text" behind the KJV. Ms. Riplinger vigorously supports the Byzantine text, but fails to make this crucial distinction and, without knowing it, actually makes the Byzantine text oppose itself by her insistence on the correctness of the traditional KJV text.

For example, in NEW AGE p. 309 Riplinger cites the omission of "Christ" from Rev. 12:17 in the new versions, but in fact only the "traditional" text has "Christ," not the Byzantine Text nor the other manuscripts. On p. 283 Riplinger criticizes the NASB among others for having "ages" in Rev. 15:3 instead of the KJV's "saints". In fact, the Byzantine text has "nations," not "saints". Only two very late and inferior manuscripts have "saints," neither of which was even available when the KJV was translated from the Textus Receptus. So where did the KJV get "saints"? Probably this reading was derived from the Latin Bible, in which the abbreviation for "ages" (sclorum, for saeculorum) could easily be confused with that for "saints," which was sctorum (for sanctorum). This is suggested by the fact that several Latin writers have "saints" when they quote this verse.

How are we to explain the supposedly large number of changes in the most recent editions of the NA and GNT texts? When the third edition of GNT (GNT3) was produced in 1975, it represented a significant change in direction regarding manuscript issues. The twenty-sixth edition of NA (NA26) followed in 1979, which was identical to the text of GNT3 due largely to the work of Kurt Aland on both texts.

The direction taken by the editors of GNT3 is often described as an "eclectic" approach, and is seen by some as an attempt to back further away from the position of Westcott and Hort toward a more neutral appraisal of the Byzantine Text. Riplinger notes 712 changes in NA26 (= GNT3), of which she claims nearly 500 are "white flags" retreating back to Textus Receptus readings (NEW AGE p. 494). Daryl Schmidt (CENTER FOR HERMENEUTICAL STUDIES COLLOQUY 32, p. 26) on the other hand, who complains of a shift in GNT3 toward Byzantine readings (and therefore would not overlook any), states that of 343 changes in the gospels, 94 favor the Byzantine text over the Alexandrian manuscripts. This is approximately 27 percent of the 343 changes. Even if the total number of changes were 712 (the introduction to NA26 mentions "more than 500"), every remaining change (369 if Schmidt's count of 343 is accepted) would have to be toward the Byzantine text even to reach a total of 463, and that would have to be interpreted as "nearly 500" to support Riplinger's claim.

Granting, however, that there is still a significant percentage of changes in NA26 and GNT3 toward the Byzantine text, is this to be explained as a sign of retreat toward the Textus Receptus? In view of the fact that the Textus Receptus is not the same as the Byzantine text (and is inferior to it), such an argument is intellectually sloppy and fatally flawed. But even if the issue is defined as a retreat to the Byzantine text, the answer is still no. The editors of GNT3/NA26 never choose a "Byzantine" reading on the ground of its being Byzantine, as though the Byzantine text were right after all.

The great majority of changes toward "Byzantine" readings are supported by D, the "Western" text. This is ironic because D is among the manuscripts anathematized by Riplinger as being the "1 percent minority" (NEW AGE p. 475) which disagree with the "Majority" text. Riplinger's own confusion over the matter is exemplified by her observation that "and fasting" of Mark 9:29 in the KJV "has been vindicated by P45, Aleph 2, A, C, D" (NEW AGE p. 630) on the one hand, while she notes two pages later that the NASB etc. "still have the outdated 'who' based on Aleph and D" for Eph. 1:14. That is, D agrees with the KJV and the Byzantine text in Mark 9:29, which apparently makes it one of the better manuscripts in Riplinger's view, even though it disagrees in Eph. 1:14 and is still one of the perverse "1 percent minority" in her view. On page 633 of NEW AGE, Riplinger notes that the new versions follow D against the KJV in Heb. 11:11 (she remarks that D is a "fifth century" manuscript in order to devalue it), and immediately afterward she complains that the NIV omits "they were tempted" in Heb. 11:37, even though it is in P13, Aleph, the KJV and D.

The fact of the matter with respect to D, as can be inferred from the examples above, is that it frequently agrees with the Byzantine text, but sometimes does not. This is why it is considered a member of a different "family" of manuscripts from either the Byzantine or Alexandrian manuscripts. As we have seen, even Westcott and Hort recognized this fact and in a few verses preferred the reading of D (the Western text) to that of B and Aleph. The editors of GNT3 have basically gone further in this same direction, for better or worse, in their changes (more on this below).

III.E. The NASB--Responding to Change.

Unfounded criticisms aside, when changes are made either in the Greek text or in the translation, it is reasonable and proper for anyone to ask why. Many times a change in translation is simply the result of a need to clarify or update in response to changes in the modern language over a number of years. In fact, as we all know, entirely new translations are published from time to time to meet various perceived needs, whether those needs are real or not. Perhaps the most bizarre example was the publication of a Bible in the "Klingon" language, the language of an imaginary alien population featured in a well-known science-fiction television and movie series ("Star Trek"). Even more bizarre was a subsequent controversy among the translators of this Bible as to whether a literal or more dynamic-equivalent (i.e. paraphrased) approach to translation should be followed.

A more pertinent question for the moment might be how or why changes would still be made to the Greek text, which often lead to changes in translation as well. It has been explained above why there are differences between the text used for the KJV and that used by modern translations. But it remains to be explained more clearly why changes were made in recent editions of the Greek text, and how the translators of the NASB in particular respond to such changes.

The policy of the Editorial Board of the Lockman Foundation has always been to determine the best Greek text, given the latest information on the ancient manuscripts. This meant that the NASB translators usually followed the 23rd edition of the NA Greek text. As indicated earlier, the edition of the NA text normally used at the present is the 26th (the 27th is in the process of publication), and the NASB translators will continue to keep abreast of and respond to changes made in the Greek text whenever it is appropriate to do so.

Changes in the Greek text can occur if (1) new discoveries of ancient manuscripts take place which justify reevaluation of a textual problem, or (2) the editorial committee responsible for the Greek text adopts a change in policy or methodology which in turn results in reevaluation of the manuscripts. The changes seen in NA26 are largely the result of a change in methodology: the editors determined that more attention should be given to context and the geographical distribution of Greek manuscripts, and that textual problems need to be considered more on a case-by-case evaluation of readings, and less on a predetermined view of what the best manuscripts are (the Westcott and Hort method).

Whether the editors are entirely right or not in their methodology is debatable; for example, should one choose a reading which is widely distributed in various manuscripts, if the manuscripts in question are inferior when considered individually? A wise group of translators might very well reject the editors' decision to go with the widely-distributed reading, if another reading had the support of what are acknowledged overall to be the best manuscripts. Indeed, they might feel compelled to do this if other factors also suggested that the reading of the best manuscripts had been altered to produce what was found in the widely-distributed manuscripts, rather than the reverse.

We can illustrate the situation by citing an actual change in the Greek of Matt. 3:7 as an example. In earlier editions of the NA text (including the 23rd), Pharisees and Sadducees are said to be "coming for baptism." This reading is found in Aleph and B, and in a few other manuscripts which are relatively unimportant. The Byzantine text has "coming for his baptism," the difference being that the word "his" is added. The editorial committee for the earlier Nestle text seems to have decided not to add "his" to the Greek text (it was still included in the notes) because it is absent from Aleph and B. However, this decision was reversed for the 26th edition. We are told by Metzger that a majority of the committee "preferred to adopt the reading supported by what was taken to be the preponderant weight of the witnesses," and that they believed that scribes could easily have omitted "his" because they perhaps regarded it as unnecessary or inappropriate (Bruce M. Metzger, A TEXTUAL COMMENTARY ON THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT p. 9).

The editorial committee has always assigned a great deal of importance or "weight" to the combination of manuscripts Aleph and B (this is apparent in most of the decisions made by the committee). Nevertheless, in this instance a majority of the members who determined the text of NA26 and GNT3 decided that the Byzantine manuscripts and others with the Byzantine reading in this verse ("his baptism") should be judged together as being marginally better support than Aleph and B (recall Metzger's words above, "preponderant weight"). They also decided that "his baptism" was in effect the harder or less desirable reading for the context, making it the better choice for the original by conventional guidelines of textual criticism.

Was the change in Matt. 3:7 a good decision? Aside from the Byzantine manuscripts, the manuscripts that have "his baptism" mostly show a mixture of readings, many of them Western, Byzantine, and some Alexandrian. Probably the most important in the group is codex D, which is the main representative of the Western text. The notes in Nestle-Aland also tell us that a scribe attempted to "correct" Aleph to make it read the same as the Byzantine text. All in all, there is not much impressive about the manuscript support for the Byzantine reading, and the chief fault of the Aleph-B combination here is that they are virtually standing alone. As for the context, it is reasonable to argue that a scribe would have felt uncomfortable about "his baptism" because it might seem to suggest competition between John and Christ, or just because it would personalize the ceremony. On the other hand, John himself makes the distinction between the two baptisms in verse 11, and in Acts 19:3 we find testimony that others did in fact speak of "John's baptism."

Obviously this is a difficult decision, and at the same time it is one which typically has no effect on theology or interpretation. Still, the decision has to be made. While we do not want to take the old and admittedly simplistic approach of Westcott and Hort, the fact remains that Aleph and B exhibit the highest quality of text overall, and one should have strong reasons before discounting their value. In Matt. 3:7 the reasons do not seem to be sufficiently convincing, so it is unlikely that the translators of the NASB will make such a change in the future even though they would give very serious consideration to the views of the editorial committee. Many other translators may have come to the same conclusion. One cannot quite determine the position taken by the NIV translators because of their wording ("...where he was baptizing"); but it is certainly notable that the NRSV does not add "his"--this despite the fact that the NRSV New Testament is based on GNT3, and that the translation committee is represented by Bruce M. Metzger. Of course Metzger, who serves on both committees, did not say that he voted with the majority of the editorial committee on Matt. 3:7.

In other situations, it may prove advisable to incorporate changes into the text based on corresponding changes in the Greek text. This will never be done automatically, or without carefully reviewing the manuscripts relevant to the changes, and other relevant issues. The Editorial Board of the Lockman Foundation will continue to study and evaluate new and pertinent information on manuscripts both for the New Testament and the Old, in harmony with the first of the Fourfold Aims of the Foundation: that its publications "shall be true to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek."

Copyright (c) by The Lockman Foundation 1994. All rights reserved.