Battle for the Bible
HOW THE BIBLE SURVIVED FOR 2000 YEARS UNDER FIRE
Part one showed that the Bible had taken on it's finished form by around 200AD, and that archaeology proves that we still have a faithful copy of those original apostolic writings. Why then has the Protestant church abandoned this faithful text which believers have rested on for 1800 years, and adopted a "new foundation" in recent years?
HISTORY OF THE BIBLE - PART TWO
Questions about the Bible make most Christians very uneasy, but there is no need for that. God is more than able to both establish and preserve His truth. And we have extremely strong evidence to show He has done exactly that, no matter what has been thrown against it. But, that does not mean that men have not tried to corrupt the Bible. Even in Biblical times men were trying to twist the scriptures (see 2 Peter 3:16). The question then is not if there is a true Bible – there most certainly is – or even if there is a corrupted one. The only question is how to recognise the truth from the error. And that is what this piece is all about.
STRUCTURE OF OUR DISCUSSION
We will begin with the early church and see how the different versions of the Biblical text were formed, and carried through history to modern times. Then in 1844 a discovery changed the landscape of Biblical text completely, making the church of today extremely vulnerable to end-times deceptions. We will look at the resulting modern Bibles and show what truths are at stake and why any of this matters.
Our discussion will be divided into the following sections:
THREE EARLY CHURCH CENTRES
(200AD - 450AD)
As of around 200AD, (100 years after the last apostle died, and just a few decades after the last surviving student of an apostle had died), three cities had emerged as major Christian centres, namely Antioch, Rome and Alexandrea. Let's have a look at the character of each of these:
(The Humble Church)
Antioch was the place where Jesus' disciples were first called "Christians". The city plays a major role in early Biblical history recorded in Acts. Paul and Barnabas established this church and from there Paul set out on his three missionary trips. It was therefore something of a "home base" for him. This city became the primary missionary city in the early days of Christianity because from here the gospel spread further and faster than from any other city.
(The Influential Church)
Rome was the most important city in the world, at the time of Christ. No wonder then that it soon rose to become an influential Christian base. After 300AD, the church which established in this region began to rise in social rank and influence in secular circles, until it had the ear of the Roman Caesar himself. As a result, we see from early writings that this church began to try to assert dominance over the other two centres, calling itself the mother church.
(The Philosophical Church)
Alexandrea, by contrast, was the seat of learning of those days. It housed the great library, which already in 285BC, was said to contain more than 200 000 manuscripts. This was where philosophers and intellectuals went to find learning and debate with each other on every religion and philosophy known to man. It also became home to a Christian centre and from here the most intellectual thinkers of Christianity debated and formulated doctrine.
The character of these three centres already tells you something about how they approached the Biblical text. But before we can explain that, we need to discuss the influence of one man on the Alexandrian thinkers of his day, namely Origen.
Three main church centres of the early church
ORIGEN OF ALEXANDREA
In the days of Origen a new breed of leadership was rising up within the church, men of learning and philosophy. This was a distant departure from the first two generations of church's leadership:
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" – 1 Corinthians 1:26
Origen was a foremost champion of this intellectual approach to Christianity. He was considered by some as, "the greatest genius the early church ever produced." His influence is felt to this day. But just who was this man and how did he rise?
Origen was raised by a Christian father, but after his martyrdom, when Origen was in his late teens, he was:
"taken in by a wealthy Gnostic woman, who was also the patron of a very influential Gnostic theologian who frequently lectured in her home..."
This was Origen's first exposure to Gnosticism, that selfsame doctrine the apostle Paul had powerfully defended the church against. A doctrine so divisive that Polycarp (a disciple of the apostle John), had called their leader, "the firstborn of Satan". A doctrine so subtle that "the slightest contact with these counterfeits was considered dangerous beyond measure". Gnosticism took the Christian scriptures and interpreted them using an ancient mystic method. The result produced an entirely occult belief system in which Satan became the saviour and "giver of secret knowledge," and man could attain to godhood by igniting the spark of divinity within him. Gnosticism was deception in its most cunning form. And yet here was a man who rose to the ranks of a great church leader who was shaped by Gnostics in his youth.
But this wasn't Origen's only contact with Gnosticism. After leaving that woman's home, he fell into another Gnostic's hands. A wealthy man named Ambrose took the young Origen under his wing, gave him a place to stay, an entire team of men to help him write, and paid for all of Origen's works to be published. With the help of his new patron, Origen became one of the most prolific writers in antiquity, with around 2,000 treatises to his name in all.
Gnosticism wasn't the only anti-Christian influence on Origen. The wide variety of intellectual theories of Alexandria, from platonism, philosophy, pantheism, cosmology and many others, all left their trace on his doctrine. He was hungry for knowledge, and this world offered him teachings on every conceivable science and belief, until finally:
It was Origen, with all his learning, who merged the complex doctrines of Gnosticism with Greek philosophy and Christian teachings, to create a set of theories which have plagued the church through all of history. For example:
One of his ideas was that Jesus Christ was God's firstborn creation. Therefore He was not God but became merged with the divine logos when he was incarnated and so became the God-Man.
Another belief he established was the idea that Jesus' death on the cross was a sacrifice to Satan – instead of an offering to God for the debt of our sins.
As our final example of his mis-doctrine, he believed in the pre-existence of souls as "spiritual intelligences" in heaven. According to him, they were all faithful to God until they got bored of worshiping Him. Those who fell the furthest became demons and those who didn't drift so far became humans. Only one remained completely faithful and He eventually became incarnated as Jesus Christ.
As with all Gnostics, Origen used an allegorical approach to the scriptures to make them "teach" what he wanted them to say. In short that means he thought the Bible should not be taken at face value, but as a symbolic message which is hiding a deeper layer of secret meaning. For example, he got the idea of the pre-existence of souls from a hidden layer of meaning in Genesis:
"Origen's idea of a twofold creation was based on an allegorical interpretation of the creation story found in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. The first creation, described in Genesis 1:26, was the creation of the primeval spirits... the second creation described in Genesis 2:7 is when the human souls are given ethereal, spiritual bodies and the description in Genesis 3:21 of God clothing Adam and Eve in "tunics of skin" refers to the transformation of these spiritual bodies into corporeal ones." – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen
The reason this is kind of allegorical use of scripture is so very dangerous, is because it abandons what the Bible actually says, and leads to absolutely any interpretation the imagination can come up with. Occult practitioners have been doing it for millennia, and in this way they deceive well-meaning listeners into thinking they are discovering the "deeper" Biblical truths, when they are actually being taught dark "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).
This is the sort of thing the apostle Paul warned about when he wrote:
"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3
Faithful men like Iranaeus and Tertullian (of the same era as Origen), spent their lives battling against these new forces inside the church. It was Tertullian who said:
“Indeed heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy... Unhappy Aristotle! who invented for these men dialectics, the art of building up and pulling down; an art so evasive in its propositions, so far-fetched in its conjectures, so harsh, in its arguments, so productive of contentions—embarrassing even to itself, retracting everything, and really treating of nothing!” – Tertillian, The Prescription Against Heretics.
Because there were still faithful men defending the truth, Origen's doctrines were rejected by the early church, but some traces survived to reinfect it again and again.
"Origen had been pronounced a heretic by a number of general synods in the early Church period." – John Henry Newman
“ 'Origen did the most of all to create and give direction to the forces of apostasy down through the centuries.' As a Gnostic philosopher, Origen scorned the historical basis of Scripture, and maintained that: 'The Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written'... His predilection for [or high opinion of the pagan philosopher] Plato, led him into many grand and fascinating errors.” – David Otis Fuller
So what does Origen have to do with our discussion on the history of the Biblical text? Sadly, all too much.
THREE STREAMS OF TEXT
In this section we will show that the Roman and Alexandrian texts were both established on the work of Origen, while the Antiochan text remained true to the apostle's original writings.
The Alexandrian Text-type
(Found in Egypt)
In Alexandrea were many men of high intellect, debating the merits of the Bible and comparing it to other religions and theories. The trouble with the Bible though, was that it elevated itself above all other religious doctrines. It claimed to have the only true God, the absolute Truth, the single way to heaven and so forth. That made it impossible for a philosopher to hold up the ideas of Plato and Aristotle along with the Bible. This is most probably why Origen noted that the copies of scriptures he could access in Alexandrian in 200AD, had been modified.
“...the differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they lengthen or shorten, as they please.” – Origen in roughly 200AD.
Archaeology supports this claim with multiple ancient texts from Egypt, where deliberate changes have been made to the pages. So Origen decided that, starting from the corrupted texts he could access, he would correct them into one new "original". But Origen never knew the apostles, nor those who were taught by them, nor even their students. Instead his training came from the world of secular learning, logic, gnosticism and philosophy – from the same people who had corrupted the texts he was reading from.
The apostle Paul had warned that their sort of wisdom could never understand God or His ways:
"Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." – 1 Corinthians 1:20-21
But Origen considered himself wise enough to correct the scriptures. The Bible version which he produced was so influential on the Alexandrian Text-type, that almost every remnant discovered from that area is heavily based on it.
The resulting Alexandrian text-type was roughly 10% shorter than the Biblical text the rest of Christianity was using. It removed words, sentences and whole passages which did not offer room for debate. The dropped words lowered the deity of Jesus Christ, along with other effects we will discuss later.
The wider Christian world rejected Origen's text and therefore archaeological findings of it are recovered almost exclusively in Egypt. It only survived about 200 years before it was abandoned completely and simply died out roughly 450AD.
"The Church also recognised that the Alexandrian manuscripts produced by Origen had altered the Apostles’ doctrine and rejected them as heretical. Early Christians chose not to use them and they were abandoned..." – John Henry Newman
The Roman Text-type
(Preserved by Rome)
We mentioned before that the church in Rome gained the ear of the Roman Caesar (Constantine) in the early 300'sAD. Emperor Constantine, after apparently converting, made Christianity a legal practice in the Roman Empire, thus ending two centuries of Christian persecution. He also commanded that 50 identical Bibles be written and used as the official Christian text in his empire. He tasked a man named Eusebius to do this.
Eusebius, along with his close friend Arius, were fervent followers of Origen. They were stirring a movement to infiltrate the larger church with portions of his doctrine, which led to the eventual Council of Nicea (see Part 1). So when Eusebius commissioned 50 identical texts to be written for the emperor, they were copies of Origen's (Alexandrian) text. And so Origen's text found home in the Roman church.
It was only a few years later, in 382AD that the church of Rome tasked Jerome to create an official Latin text. His text was primarily based on Origen's work. But we also have the surviving correspondence between Jerome and Augustine where Jerome admits to "correcting" the text, in the same way Origen did. The final text added 3 new books to the New Testament, which had not come down directly from the first apostles, along with added historical books which were not considered inspired Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament. The resulting Latin Vulgate translation was used in Rome until the 1600's when a newer latin translation replaced it.
"Jerome worked from one of the 50 copies which Constantine ordered from Eusebius of Caesarea. It was called the Latin Vulgate and became the official version of the Vatican and the foundation of all their damnable heresies."
"Origen’s influence extended to the Roman Catholic religion... his teachings became the foundation of that system of education called Scholasticism, which guided the colleges of Latin Europe for nearly one thousand years during the Dark Ages. Origenism flooded the Catholic Church through Jerome." – John Henry Newman
The resulting Roman text was strictly guarded by the Roman church.
(Found all over Europe and beyond)
The church of Antioch was a body of simple believers who held the texts written by the apostles as sacred. Paul used their church as a home base while establishing many other churches across Asia Minor and beyond (see map below). Important to their ability to preserve the Biblical text, is the following quote from 190AD, when Tertullian wrote:
“Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally."
He goes on to list some of the churches which still preserved their original, apostolic writings in his day. The churches he names are: Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica and Ephesus. So at least these four churches were still preserving the original letters sent to them by the apostles at around 200AD. How many apostolic letters would that be? At least 6 of Paul's letters were written to them, Peter had written 2 letters to them, and John stayed in Ephasis (before and after his exile to Patmos), leaving his original gospel with them too, which was known to still be there in 290AD. So then at the very least, one third of the New Testament's original apostolic writings were available to Christians in Tertullian's day and beyond. These texts would have survived another 100 years, until Emperor Diocletian made it his mission to destroy them in 300AD.
This meant that in the years when Origen was modifying his text in Egypt, the Christians at Antioch were able to look directly at the originals. This was the one church centre which respected the text more than their own wisdom, and clung to the legacy of the apostles more than any other. Their copies of the originals were the text used by the vast majority of the early Christian world. Just like Paul had taught them, they were the great missionary centre that spread the gospel throughout the world. Archaeology finds remains of their text-type scattered all over Europe and all the way into Russia. Most of these are still in their original Greek form, but a number of translations also exist.
Also interesting is the fact that in the beginning the Roman church was using a latin translation of the Bible made in 157AD. This old latin version was almost the same as the text from Antioch (known as the Byzantine text). But in 405AD that version was replaced with the Latin translation of Jerome which we have already mentioned was based on the Alexandrian text of Origen.
What does this mean? It means of the 3 types of text which exist, the Byzantine text (from Antioch), was the original writings of the apostles. While the Alexandrian text was changed by Origen in 200AD and then later adopted by Rome in 405AD (after Jerome made a few of his own changes).
The cities where Paul travelled and established churches
HOW THE TEXTS-TYPES SURVIVED
In 286AD, the Roman Empire was split into East and West portions (see top map). The church of Rome stood in the West, Alexandrea and Antioch stood in the East. As we mentioned before, the lack of acceptance of the Alexandrian text made it die out in around 450AD. As for Antioch and Rome, their differences grew greater and greater until in 450AD there was a complete rift. A few years later, in 476AD, the Western Roman Empire fell to invasion and east and west churches were forever separated.
The Roman Text-Type
In the West, the church of Rome called herself the "Holy Roman Empire", in a bid to resurrect the former glory of the fallen Roman Empire. Having no actual country of her own, she set about establishing religious influence over all of Europe's many kings and countries. Once in power, she went on the rampage, destroying every surviving copy of the Antiochan text in the lands under her influence. Christians were martyred for hiding or reading their greek Bibles, or for having any free thought. Thousands upon thousands of Bibles were burned until only the Roman church and its Latin text survived. Ironically, the years the Roman church was in power became known as the dark ages.
The Byzantine Text-Type
The Eastern Roman Empire shrank but did not fall. It became known as the Byzantine Empire. They preserved their Antiochan text (which we will call the Byzantine text from here forward), in the original Greek it was written in. After the Muslim religion rose up in 600AD, the Byzantine Empire suffered multiple invasions before it finally fell centuries later, in 1453AD. When these refugees fled to Western Europe, they brought their Bibles with them. This was the first time the west had seen the Byzantine text in nearly a 1000 years. When a Roman Catholic monk, named Martin Luther, read the Greek Byzantine text he realised the evils his church had committed. In 1517 he nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of a Roman church to protest her suppression of God's truth. This sparked the Protestant Reformation.
Immediately protestants worked to translate the Byzantine text into German, and English, hoping to put a true Bible in every man's hand. The Protestant Reformation was an extraordinary blow to the power and influence of the Roman church. The Roman church's response was vicious. In 1534 she launched the counter-reformation, establishing one of the most sinister groups in human history, a secret order called the The Society of Jesus (or Jesuits for short). Their task was to pose as protestants, infiltrate their ranks and exterminate them. Here is just a taste of the unholy oath these men made to their Roman rulers:
"I do further declare that the doctrine of the churches of England and Scotland, of the Calvinists, Huguenots and others of the name Protestants or Liberals to be damnable and they themselves damned who will not forsake the same... [and to] wage relentless war, secretly or openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Liberals, as I am directed to do, to extirpate and exterminate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex or condition; and that I will hang, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive these infamous heretics, rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women and crush their infants' heads against the walls, in order to annihilate forever their execrable race... as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agent of the Pope or Superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Faith, of the Society of Jesus." – From the Jesuit Oath
Two years after the Jesuits were founded, Tyndale (who was nearly finished working on the first English translation of the Byzantine text), was betrayed by a "friend" and lead into an ambush where he was murdered. He was just one of many Protestants who lost their lives for God's truth. It was in 1560AD that they finally found a man in Geneva willing to let them use his printing press to spread the English Bible on mass. This was the text that went on to change the world. In 1563 Rome condemned all Bible's except her latin version, again openly doing as she had done for centuries – persecuting thousands upon thousands of those who did not bow to her authority and destroying every Byzantine text she found.
It was in 1611 that the Protestant King James of England ordered his own official translation of the Byzantine text to be made. The King James Version formed the foundation of Protestant Christianity for the next 400 years.
To get a sense of how deep Rome's hatred for the Byzantine text was, we offer a quote from a Jesuit meeting held in 1825.
“Then the Bible, (that serpent which with head erect and eyes flashing, threatens us with its venom while it trails along the ground), shall be changed into a rod as soon as we are able to seize it... for three centuries past this cruel asp has left us no repose. You well know with what folds it entwines us and with what fangs it gnaws us.” – from a Jesuit meeting in Cheri, Italy in 1825, (The Jesuits in History, Hector Macpherson, Ozark Book Publishers, 1997, Appendix 1).
Now note how they were planning to "seize it" so that they might change the threatening serpent into a harmless rod. But how would they do that? The answer came only a few years later, in 1844, when Rome began resurrecting that old relic – the Alexandrian text.
AN 1844 DISCOVERY
In this section we go on to discuss how the Alexandrian text was rediscovered and just how unreliable it's best copies are.
THE DISCOVERY OF CODEX SINIATICUS
It was a Jesuit named Cardinal Mai, who invited a man named Tischendorf to a private audience with the Pope in 1843. In that meeting Tischendorf, who already longed to find the world's oldest surviving Bible, was told where he might begin such a search. He left the Vatican, raised funds for the trip, and headed straight to a remote monastery in the Sinai desert. And in the very first place he looked, he discovered exactly that, an ancient codex (leather book), in the style of the fourth century scribes. But the monks would not allow him to remove it and so he secretly tore out a number of leaves and took them back to Europe and gave them to the king of Saxony, in return for funding his travel. But the grand prize still lay in that monastery. It was in 1853 that he was able to make it back there, but still could not get his hands on the rest of the codex. His final return was handsomely funded by a Russian who sent a delegation with him. In 1859 he brought the codex to Russia. Three years later he unveiled a typeset copy of his find to the world, announcing that he had discovered the oldest surviving Bible, dating back to around 350AD. It was called Codex Siniaticus (since it was discovered at Sinai). Tischendorf gained instant fame and received numerous awards along with being honoured by the Pope for this grand discovery.
Tischendorf was then invited back to the Vatican Library to view another ancient codex, this one named Codex Vaticanus. It was a known text which had been buried in the Vatican's vaults, basically ignored by the church since the 1400's – that was at least until the discovery of Codex Siniaticus. And so the two oldest copies of the Bible were found in Roman hands. You may already have guessed that both Vaticanus and Siniaticus were of the Alexandrian text-type.
But shortly after Tischendorf announced his discovery, a man named Simonides – a renowned forger – publicly announced that he had in fact created the Codex Siniaticus to look like an ancient book. It was meant as a gift for the Tzar of Russia in the hopes that the Tzar might donate a printing press to his uncle's monastery in return. But shortly before he could finish the project, the codex disappeared, only to be discovered by Tischendorf in the monastery in Sinai. To support his claim, he named a list of identifying marks he had made on selected pages to prove his authorship. Somehow every one of those sections were mysteriously torn off the codex and Simonides died under mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards.
Then a friend of Simonides came out publicly saying he had witnessed Tischendorf treating the pages of the codex with lemon juice. When asked, Tischendorf said he was cleaning them. But the forger's friend well knew that lemon juice was an agent for making pages look older and time-worn. Nothing came of that accusation until 2009 when the original pages Tischendorf had brought back were –for the very first time – digitally reunited with the remainder of the codex he later secured and took to Russia. And there, plain for all to see, was the fact that the later group's pages were distinctly more yellow and aged than the first.
There is far more to this story, but we must press on.
THE ALEXANDRIAN TEXT TYPE REVIVED
It was the work of two men named Westcott and Hort, that began to put the Alexandrian text on the map again. In 1881 they merged the two codices (Vaticanus and Siniaticus) into one transcribed "original text." They also birthed a new theory, that the Alexandrian text-type was in fact the original Biblical text. And since these were the oldest copies of the Alexandrian line, they therefore also had to be the most trustworthy copies of the Bible in existence. They created a second theory as well, that all the extra words, verses and passages found in the Byzantine text, were actually added in 250AD by a man named Lucius. Thus, according to them, the Alexandrian text was much more accurate because the Bible the Protestants had been using up to then was corrupted.
The trouble with Westcott and Hort's theories was that there was no historical evidence to support it. Not only was near nothing known of the life of Lucius, certainly nothing to support their claims, but archaeological discoveries completely disproved their theory. For example non-biblical fragments were found quoting from the Byzantine text in a time when, according to Westcott and Hort, that text did not yet exist:
"The Magdalen Papyrus (P64) is considered by some to be the oldest known manuscript (from before 66AD), and variants within it support the Byzantine Text with no support for the Alexandrian Text. Early translations like the Peshitta (2nd century) and Gothic (approximately 350AD) are also Byzantine."
Then there was the Chester Beatty Papyri dated before 200AD, which contained 15 New Testament books which were also Byzantine in nature. Maybe the best evidence was from the Dead Sea Scrolls which offered 6 fragments from the New Testament, dated with absolute certainty to before 68AD. In other words these copies were written while many of the original apostles were still alive. And they too were found to be of the Byzantine text-type. This destroyed Westcott and Hort's theory and offered extremely strong evidence that the Byzantine text-type was indeed the original.
But Westcott and Hort hated the Byzantine text. Hort even called it "villainous" and "vile" in one of his private letters. They were not merely compiling an Alexandrian texts, they were actively trying to dethrone the Byzantine text.
“It is quite impossible to judge the value of what appear to be trifling alterations merely by reading them one after another. Taken together, they have often important bearings which few would think of at first... We have successfully resisted being warned off dangerous ground... It is, one can hardly doubt, the beginning of a new period in Church history. So far the angry objectors have reason for their astonishment.” - Arthur Hort, Vol. II, pp. 138-39.
Hort in the above quote admits that they were making what looked like minor changes to the text, but when collected together, they would create the birth of a new church era. And that those who had tried to warn them against their error had good reason to be worried. If this begins to bring to mind the alterations Origen made to the text of his day, this next quote should again. Origen had suggested that Jesus Christ was sacrificed to Satan instead of God, while Westcott said:
“I confess I have no repugnance [or disgust] to the primitive doctrine of a ransom paid to Satan... I can see no other possible form in which the doctrine of a ransom is at all tenable [or reasonable]; anything is better than the notion of a ransom paid to the Father.” – Westcott to Hort, August 16, 1860.
Hort in turn says:
“I entirely agree... with what you there say on the Atonement, having for many years believed that the absolute union of the Christian (or rather of man) with Christ Himself, is the spiritual truth of which the popular doctrine of substitution is an immoral and material counterfeit... indeed that is only one aspect of an almost universal heresy.” – Hort to Westcott, Oct 15, 1680.
To put that in common English, Hort is saying that the idea that Jesus suffered on the cross to take away your and my sin is a pure lie and part of a great heresy. And yet this is the very centre and heartbeat of the entire Bible – the only way men can be saved! This is the core of the entire doctrine of Christianity. How could men who did not believe in the Biblical text be trusted with establishing it?
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." – Romans 5:8
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God..." – 1 Peter 3:18a
"Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life." – Romans 5:18
But they knew that anyone who understood what they were doing would brand them as heretics, and therefore they were very careful about how they went about their project.
“Also - but this may be cowardice - I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms.” – Hort to Westcott, April. 12th, 1861.
A CLOSER LOOK AT VATICANUS AND SINIATICUS
In the years when all this was happening, scholars did not get to see the actual codices but were given a typeset copy of Westcott and Hort's final product. No one therefore knew that what was claimed to be a near complete Codex Siniaticus was in fact missing large sections of Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ezra and Lamentations. It was also missing all of Exodus, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, Daniel, Hosea, Amos and Micha.
But notice something else, look at the following page from Codex Siniaticus and see just how many changes, corrections and mistakes are on this single page. The four main columns are the basic text, but all the writing around that is corrections. And there are countless more pages like it. In fact the entire book looks like a rough draft. There are blank sections, repeated sentences, even a place in the Old Testament where a passage stops mid-sentence at 1 Chronicles 19:17, and then just carries on from Ezra 9:9. It's as if the writer got interrupted and then just carried on from the wrong place.
“On many occasions, 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through very carelessness... Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately canceled: while that gross blunder... occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament.” – John William Burgon
No other early manuscript of the Christian Bible has been so extensively corrected [as Siniaticus]. A glance at the transcription will show just how common these corrections are... They range from the alteration of a single letter to the insertion of whole sentences. – http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/codex/significance.aspx
A sample page from Codex Siniaticus – the so-called, "most reliable" ancient biblical text
You would imagine that Vaticanus would be much better. It may not have as many grand blunders but the New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible says:
“It should be noted, however, that there is no prominent Biblical MS [manuscript]. in which there occur such gross cases of misspelling, faulty grammar, and omission, as in B [Vaticanus].”
And these are the two Bibles we are told to believe are the most reliable in existence! This next quote will show that not only do these two codices have dramatic differences from the Byzantine text, but they do not even agree with each other.
When examining the Gospels as found in Vaticanus, Burgon found 7578 deviations from the majority [Byzantine text], with 2370 of them being serious. In the Gospels of Sinaiticus, he found 8972 deviations, with 3392 serious ones. He also checked these manuscripts for particular readings, or readings that are found ONLY in that manuscript. In the Gospels alone, Vaticanus has 197 particular readings, while Sinaiticus has 443. And be it remembered that the omissions, additions, substitutions, transpositions, and modifications, are by no means the same in both. It is in fact easier to find two consecutive verses in which these two mss. [manuscripts] differ the one from the other, than two consecutive verses in which they entirely agree.”
"We venture to assure without a particle of hesitation, that Vaticanus and Siniaticus are of the most scandalously corrupt copies extant - exhibit the most shamefully mutilated texts which are anywhere to be met with... the depositories of the largest amount of fabricated readings, ancient blunders, and intentional perversions of Truth, which are discoverable in any known copies of the Word of God." – John William Burgon
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE OF ALEXANDRIAN vs BYZANTINE TEXTS
While the Alexandrian text has only these two major codices (and another 3 minor ones) for support, the Byzantine text has far more than 5000 supporting texts. That is a ratio of 1000:1 in terms of the weight of evidence. Then take the fact that no two Alexandrian texts fully agree with each other, in fact the differences are dramatic, while the Byzantine texts are in such strong agreement across all 5000, that two different studies estimated the variation as little as 0,01% and 0,025% mostly found in spelling variations (see Part 1 for more). That makes them as good as identical. Add to that the fact that while the Alexandrian text is praised for being the oldest text-type, the evidence of Archaeology tells the opposite story. The Alexandrian text has no supporting evidence before the year 200AD while the Byzantine text can be traced all the way back to the very days of the apostles. In fact, a full 150 readings of ancient texts dated before 250AD support the Byzantine text. And consider how important the fact is that the Byzantine text was preserved outside of the hands of the Roman church, while the Alexandrian text was not only found in their keep, but was in fact the base-text from which their own Latin version was drawn. And finally remember that the Alexandrian text died out and was basically extinct for most of church history simply because it was known to be corrupt. Exactly where is the evidence to support the claim that the Alexandrian text is both "best and oldest"?
Are we expected to stake our eternal fate on the word of two texts which cannot – between the pair of them – tell us definitively what the Biblical truth is? Possibly most disturbing of all is just how excited the world of the occult practices was to see the arrival of the Alexandrian text.
OCCULT SUPPORT FOR THE ALEXANDRIAN TEXT
Our first quote comes from Edward Maitland, a Theosophist, which means he actively worshiped Lucifer:
"1881, was the publication of the Revised Version [the Alexandrian text of Westcott and Hort]... the new translation was welcomed by us, if only as constituting a blow to the idolatrous veneration in which the letter of the old translation was held... it would deprive many pious persons of some of their favorite texts" – The Hermetic Kabbalah
So the Theosophists celebrated the fact that a new Bible would remove portions of the text and make Christian's faith in the inerrancy of the Bible waiver. This has been the case. Since the Alexandrian text has found its place in Protestant Christianity, there is so much variation between different Bibles that believers find the idea of definitive, inerrant scripture nearly impossible to believe in.
This next quote comes from the lady who created Theosophy, Madame Helena P. Blavatsky. She was also called the grandmother of the New Age movement, and once said:
"Lucifer is the logos, the serpent, the saviour." – Madame Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine
So very plainly then, she was a follower of Lucifer. And as an occultist she believed in the practice of allegorical use of the scripture to draw out the secret (or occult) meaning, in the same way the Gnostics and Origen did.
"Truly unless we read the Old Testament Kabalistically and comprehend the hidden meaning thereof, there is very little we can learn from it..."
This same woman said that the revised version of the Bible made by Westcott and Hort "corrected" the text.
"Now that the revised version of the gospel has been published, the most glaring mistranslations of the old versions are corrected" – Madame Blavatsky, the Secret Doctrine.
When a Lucifer worshiper says the Bible has been "corrected", something is very wrong. But it is even more concerning when you consider that Madam Blavatsky believed that only a Kabbalist (or occultist) could correct the Biblical text – what does that say of Westcott and Hort?
"King James translators have made such a jumble of it that no one but a Kabbalist can restore the Bible to its original form" – Madame Blavatski, Jesuitry in Masonry
Next let's hear the opinion of an acclaimed occult practitioner and 33rd Degree Mason named Manly P. Hall.
"Of importance to students of occultism is the fact that the Codex Sinaiticus contains many passages suppressed from the published Gospels. These passages in many cases greatly alter the significance of the text... the King James version of the Holy Bible teems with error and is hopelessly unreliable from a scholastic viewpoint, yet popular acceptance has caused this mis-version of holy writ to come to be recognized as infallible so that the religious public would now reject a correct translation... For over 300 years, erroneous theological notions have been circulated, deriving their authority from the King James translation of the Bible." – Manly P. Hall.
Now for the most important occult quote of them all:
“To make things right we will have to undo much that is cherished error. The problem of revising the Bible shows how difficult it is to do this. For the last hundred years we have been trying to get out an edition of the Bible that is reasonably correct; but nobody wants it. What`s wanted is the good old King James version, every jot and tittle of it, because most people are convinced that God dictated the Bible to King James in English.”– Manly P Hall (Mason and occultist)
Did you catch that? Hall says that "they" had spent 100 years trying to replace the King James Bible with a different version. This quote comes from 1944 – exactly 100 years from the time Codex Siniaticus was discovered – the same codex which Hall claims corrects the errors of the King James Bible.
WESTCOTT & HORT CONNECTIONS TO THE OCCULT
After Westcott and Hort passed away, their sons published their private letters. And so it became public knowledge that both men were deeply involved in occult activities and multiple secret societies (having established two of them themselves). One of these was called "The Ghostly Guild" which investigated and participated in the Biblically forbidden act of necromancy (speaking to the dead).
In a book called "The Occult Underground," James Webb tells how the Ghostly Guild was a parent organisation to the later formed occult Society for Psychical Research. He called the Ghostly Guild "a society from which our own can claim direct descent." Even the Occult Illustrated Dictionary makes mention of these men two men and their guild.
Speaking of his won contact with the dark arts, Hort said:
"We are learning with the help of many teachers the extent and the authority of the dominion which the dead have over us"
Madam Blavatsky (the Lucifer worshiping grand-mother of the New Age Movement), was one of those invited to teach the Ghostly Guild their dark art of communing with the dead. No wonder then that Hort wrote:
"I was not safe or traditional in my theology, and I could not give up association with heretics and such like."
Now let's ask which Biblical truths are at stake if we abandon the Byzantine text for the Alexandrian one?
If we were to believe the Alexandrian text was more faithful, then certain Christian doctrines would be at stake.
THE DIVINITY OF JESUS
You will recall that one of the main objectives of Westcott and Hort was to make their changes to the text so small that they were almost unnoticeable. This was the tool they used to hide just how much they were changing its doctrine, and a method to make people think the Alexandrian text was really no different to the Byzantine – so why fight it. But have a look at what a massive difference those tiny little changes make:
(1 Timothy 3:16)
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." – Byzantine
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." – Alexandrian
All the Alexandrian text needed to do here is to replace "God" with "He", and the verse no longer proves Jesus' divine origins. Read this verse in the NIV, RSV, ESV, the Message, the Passion version and all the rest. Of the modern Bibles, only the NKJV retains this Byzantine reading (and of course the KJV).
"And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever." – Byzantine
"The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped." – Alexandrian
In this verse the Alexandrian text just leaves off the bit where Jesus "lives for ever and ever". Again, check your bible, of the modern versions, only the NKJV keeps these words in the verse.
"Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." – Byzantine
"which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” – Alexandrian
Again the words in bold are simply missing from all modern versions (except the NKJV). Can you see how just a few minor changes to words, or a few words left out of a sentence, can result in a Bible which makes proving the eternal deity of Jesus nearly impossible? As our last example on Jesus' divinity, read:
(1 John 5:7-8)
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." – Byzantine
"For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." – Alexandrian
In the Alexandrian text verse 7 has been removed and verse 8 has been spread over two verses to fill the gap. This is the only verse in the Bible which clearly proves the Trinity, and the Alexandrian text doesn't have it.
JESUS ATONING SACRIFICE
Do you recall how Origen did not believe in Jesus atoning sacrifice, but instead said He was sacrificed to the devil? Also recall how Westcott and Hort agreed with him and denied the idea that Jesus died as our substitute on the cross. Do you realise that if Jesus was not an offering to God for the debt of our sins then we have no hope of heaven – none at all? Now look at the changes in the text:
(1 Corinthians 5:7)
"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." – Byzantine
"Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." – Alexandrian
All the Alexandrian text had to do here was leave out two tiny words, "for us", and the idea of the atonement is removed. We find the same done again in 1 Peter 4:1 where, "Christ hath suffered for us" is missing the same two words.
The virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ are what sets Him apart from every other human being. He came from heaven and returned to heaven. And yet the first publication of the Revise Standard Version in 1952 (based on Westcott and Hort's text), removed the prophecy of Jesus virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14 and said a "young woman" would conceive. This was one of the changes which created the most push-back and as a result almost all modern translations now keep the word "virgin". But what about Jesus resurrection? That one fact is what established Christianity above every other doctrine and religion in the world. That one miracle is what the foundation of Christianity was built on, and without it our faith is useless.
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." – 1 Corinthians 15:17
Yet Westcott, said the exact opposite, claiming that to believe in Jesus' physical resurrection is to destroy our faith completely:
"That which is of the earth can perceive only that which is of the earth. The world could not see Christ and Christ could not – there is a divine impossibility – show himself to the world. To have proved by incontestable evidence that Christ rose again as Lazarus rose again would have been not to confirm our faith but to destroy it irretrievably." – Westcott, The Gospel of life, 1892.
Again, how can we trust such men to give us a faithful Christian text?
Jesus' resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity, yet Codex Vaticanus and Siniaticus, are the only surviving Biblical texts in the world which end the book of Mark at chapter 16 verse 8. Siniaticus actually leaves a blank space there, large enough for the missing verses from Mark 16:9-20 which describe Jesus' resurrection and ascension. But because Vaticanus and Siniaticus did not include those verses in Mark, a theory was born amongst theologians that the other gospels later added in false claims of Jesus' resurrection – meaning they argue that belief in Jesus resurrection is unscriptural and based on a corruption of the Biblical text. It is as if these men are actually trying to undermine the faith of Christians – and they are leaders in the church! And in today's Bibles either those verses are left out, or a footnote is added saying that they are not found in the oldest and most reliable texts.
Does the Alexandrian text outright deny the doctrines of Christianity? No. But it waters down the evidence of key doctrines to such a degree, that once a seed of doubt is placed in a believer's mind by any one of the thousand deceptions, the Alexandrian text offers very little clear teaching the believer can use to fend it off.
What could possibly be the point of all this?
THE PURPOSE OF THE ALEXANDRIAN TEXT
If we adopt the Alexandrian text, we are at risk of doubting that Jesus was ever resurrected from the grave, that He was God eternal or that He ever died for our sins. The text also undermines our doctrines on baptism, the final judgement and hell, the sinlessness of Jesus, how we should test false spirits, the inspiration of scripture and more. In short, the Alexandrian text literally leaves Christians defenceless against false doctrines. Do you recall our previous Jesuit quote where they told us they planned to do exactly that – take the teeth out of the King James Bible?
Remove these key doctrines and Christianity would have no special claims to elevate it above any other religion and Jesus would be no more unique than any other prophet. This would mean that Christianity could easily be merged with all the world's other religions and for that reason the occult and the Vatican are behind the Alexandrian text.
Every version of the occult – be it Gnosticism, New Age, Theosophy, Freemasonry, Jesuitism or any other – is working actively towards a one world religion under a coming world leader. For more on the end-times efforts towards a one-world religion vs true Christianity, see our piece:
The World's Two Religions - (link not active yet)
The last few decades have proven that the Roman church is working harder than any other religious group to unite all the religions of the world into one ecumenical unity. We will discuss this in much more depth on another page:
Transforming Christianity - (link not active yet)
A BRAND NEW BIBLE
In this section we show how the Roman church finally got what she wanted from the very beginning, a text to unite all men together at the cost of their truths.
AN ECCUMENICAL TEXT
Hopefully you are beginning to realise that this new Bible version was being very intentionally introduced for a very particular purpose. But as the occultist Manly P. Hall said in 1944, the job was still not done. Protestants still wanted to cling to the King James Bibles. It was the turn of another few men with Vatican connections to step in.
In 1898, a man named Eberhard Nestle took up the cause in a project that continues to this day. This project was significantly pushed forward by the work of Kurt Aland and so today the text is called the Nestle-Aland text.
"In 1952, a German named “Kurt Aland” would join the Nestle team, he would assist in producing new editions the Nestle’s Greek Text... He denied the verbal inspiration of the Bible and wanted to see all denominations united into one “body” by the acceptance of a new ecumenical canon of Scripture which would take into account the Catholic apocryphal books (The Problem of the New Testament Canon, pp. 6,7,30-33)
The Nestle-Aland text is what basically all modern Bibles are based on, but as you can see from the first edition, it rests very heavily on Westcott and Hort:
"The first edition published by Eberhard Nestle in 1898 combined the readings of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort and Weymouth" – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novum_Testamentum_Graece
But the Nestle-Aland text promised to be fair to the whole Christian tradition of texts. They said they would take all the evidence of archaeology (and like Origen), piece together one "original" text from the many variations. This seemed like a much more academic approach than Westcott and Hort's. Also this would separate the resulting text from all the scandalous evidence against Westcott and Hort. The fact however, was that while this text does keep some of the Byzantine readings, it is still 90% Alexandrian in nature. So it only pretends to be fair to all sides, when in reality, it almost always reverts back to the reading found in one text – Codex Vaticanus – and ignores the many thousands of readings that say otherwise.
"All editions of Nestle-Aland remain close in textual character to the text of Westcott-Hort"
By now it should come as no surprise to hear that one of the men working on the Nestle-Aland text was a Jesuit priest, a man called Carlo Martini. And another man with strong Jesuit connections, named Eugene Nida, made it his life's work to get the Protestant church to adopt the Nestle-Aland text. It is a long story, so we will not go into that here, but a good account of it is made in: "Why the Changed the Bible," for those who are interested.
A MORPHING TEXT
Also concerning is that the Nestle-Aland so-called "original text", is a morphing text, now in its 28th edition. This means that the "original text" of the Bible (according to them) is different today to what it was yesterday, and tomorrow it will change again. This has significantly contributed to the average Christian's mistrust in the inerrancy of the Bible. How can you believe in it when the "truth" keeps dancing around? This is a built-in mechanism to undermine the faith of Christians and it is made so much worse by the many different translations out there.
"It should naturally be understood that this text is a working text (in the sense of the century-long Nestle tradition): It is not to be considered as definitive, but as a stimulus to further efforts toward defining and verifying the text of the New Testament, for many reason, however, the present edition has not been deemed an appropriate occasion for introducing textual changes." – Nestle-Aland 27th
NEW AUTHORITY OVER THE TEXT
It was in 1965 that the Roman church announced she alone would have authority to approve new Bible translations – even for the Protestant churches. And this was confirmed in an agreement which was made only a few months later by the Protestant Bible Societies.
"But since the word of God must be readily available at all times, the [Roman} church, with motherly concern, sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into various languages, especially from the orginal texts of the sacred books. If, when the opportunity presents itself and the authority of the church agree, these translations are made jointly with churches separated from us, they can then be used by all Christians." – 18 November 1965, the RCC "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation"
In 1966 the Nestle–Aland text became the official, universal Bible for both Protestant and Catholics alike, and the basis of every new translation since then. The only difference being, the Catholics added the Apocrypha to theirs.
“The text... following an agreement between the Vatican and the United Bible Societies has served as the basis for new translations and for revisions made under their [Roman] supervision. This marks a significant step with regard to inter-confessional relationships.” – The Introduction to the Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th revised edition (2006)
As the above quote shows, this new Bible marks a giant leap in the ecumenical program to unite, not only Protestants and Catholics, but all the worlds religions together. The Byzantine text was a major obstruction on the road to the one-world-religion because it powerfully opposes error, while the Alexandrian text is near defenceless against the enemy. This is the exact end the Jesuit forces were working towards from the beginning. This is the new church era Westcott and Hort said their text would usher in. And are we to think that Tischendorf did not know what he was saying only four years after publishing Siniaticus:
"we have at last hit upon a better plan even than this, which is to set aside this textus receptus [the Byzantine text] altogether, and to construct a fresh text." – David Daniels, Is The "World's Oldest Bible" A Fake? Chick Publications.
TWO TYPES OF TEXT
All the men who have worked to establish the Alexandrian text, (from Origen up until today's morphing text), have been willing to make changes to the Word of God as they saw fit – to leave their own fingerprint on it. So much so that of all the surviving Alexandrian texts, no two are identical. These men have also denied that the Bible is the definitive "inspired word of God," all of them have held heretical doctrines and all have worked towards unity with Rome and/or other religions.
The fruit of their work has caused countless believers to doubt the inerrancy of God's Word. And maybe worse still, the Alexandrian text has internal contradictions which open a door for many to attack Christianity. They point to these issues (which are not in the Byzantine text), and use it to undermine the believer's faith. We will discuss more on this subtle but enormously dangerous ploy in another piece:
The Internal Integrity of the Bible - Link not active yet
(Discussing the so-called Bible contradictions)
By contrast, all those who have handled the Byzantine text have trusted it to be inerrant, and inspired. They have preserved it unchanged for 2000 years. The thousands of surviving text we have today are basically identical all the way back to the most ancient fragments. These men did not consider themselves worthy of tampering with the Word of the Almighty God. Instead, they offered up their lives to protect it, so that you and I can still say we hold the infallible time-tested Word of God in our hands. Because of the extraordinary legacy of the Byzantine text, our faith in God and His unchanging Word has every reason to be firm to the end.
Can you be a true Christian and read only the Alexandrian text? Absolutely yes. After all, 85% of the Alexandrian text is the same as the Byzantine text. Can you be converted to Christianity through the Alexandrian text? Absolutely yes. Can you find eternal truth in the Alexandrian text? Again, the answer has to be yes. God can work, even through an imperfect vessel. But can you find scriptural-defence against all the doubts and false doctrines swarming around the church, seeking to devour her in these end-times? Well now that is where the problem lies, and that is a very big problem indeed!
Let us not forget that God has given us His Word as our sword of truth against the enemies lies.
"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" – Ephesians 6:17
God has preserved His Word for us. To accept the Alexandrian text is to offer up 15% of His truth as if it were a cheap thing. Dare we think it is alright for men to place their own mark on God's book? And if we can be turned away from the Byzantine text, then how much more easily will we fall prey to the next compromise? The entire end times battle is a battle for truth – a battle against deception – and by offering up the Byzantine text we have already taken heavy losses without even knowing that the war has begun.
We ask you to prayerfully consider this topic before the Lord.
Would you like to know which text your Bible is based on? Below is a list of some of the more popular versions.
Byzantine text alone
(This traditional text is more often referred to as the "Textus Receptus"):
GEN - The Geneva Bible (1560-1599)
KJV - The King James Version (1611)
Mostly Byzantine text with some Alexandrian
(Similar to the Textus Receptus, more often referred to as the "Majority Text"):
NKJV - The New King James Version (1979)
Mostly Alexandrian text with some Byzantine
(This is the work of Nestle-Aland, more often referred to as the "The Critical Text"):
NAB - New American Bible (1970) – includes influence from the Roman Latin Vulgate text
NLT - The New Living Translation (1996)
ESV - The English Standard Version (2001)
Alexandrian text alone
(This is the work of Westcott and Hort, more often referred to as the "Revised Version"):
RSV - The Revised Standard Version (1952)
NIV - New International Version (1973)
ASV - American Standard Version (1900)
NASB - New American Standard Bible (1963)
LINKS FOR FURTHER READING