The Preservation Of Scripture -- By: William W. Combs

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 005:1 (Fall 2000)
Article: The Preservation Of Scripture
Author: William W. Combs


The Preservation Of Scripture

William W. Combsa

One of the many issues in the current debate about Greek manuscript text-types and English versions is the question of the preservation of Scripture. In fact, as one analyzes the arguments for the King James-only, Textus Receptus (tr), and Majority Text (mt) positions, it soon becomes obvious that the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture is at the heart of many of these viewpoints.

It may be helpful, at the outset, to note the major differences among these three perspectives. The mt position differs from the tr position in that it argues that the text of the autographs is more perfectly preserved in the thousands of manuscripts that are part of the Byzantine text-type. Since, therefore, these manuscripts represent a majority of all extant Greek manuscripts, a Greek text derived from a consensus of these manuscripts can be called the Majority Text.1 The tr viewpoint, on the other hand, suggests that the various printed editions of the Greek New Testament, beginning with Erasmus in 1516, more perfectly preserve the autographs. The name Textus Receptus was not formally attached to these printed editions until 1633.2 Though the tr is Byzantine in character, yet, because it is based on only about seven out of the thousands of Byzantine-type manuscripts, it differs from the more broadly based mt. Daniel Wallace has counted 1,838 differences between the tr and the Majority Text of Hodges and Farstad.3 There has been no English translation based on the mt. The kjv was, of course, translated from the tr, and the tr and King James-only positions are almost always

inextricably tied to one another such that one can speak of the kjv/tr position. The King James-only view argues that the kjv is the only English Bible that may be called the Word of God.

Preservation is an underlying presupposition that often controls the text-critical arguments of the kjv/tr and mt positions.4

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