The True Bible - Part 2

Written by: John Sernaque

Dear Reader,

This will be the second part of a series of articles outlining the history of the Bible. These articles will point you to the most accurate translation of the Bible, and will help you to avoid the many spurious translations which exist today. This series of articles are based on the book “The King James Bible and Modern Translations” written by Vance Ferrell. Let’s pick up where we left off.

The Majority Text is the Earliest

History tells us, faithful Christians did the early copying of the Bible, unlike today’s wordlings who are trained in secular universities and have substituted an inferior Greek text. The Majority Text were not only the best copies but also the earliest. The Bible writers told us that copies of God’s Word were made and circulated everywhere. The Majority Text comes from the earliest manuscripts. The early “fathers”, who died before AD 400 witness to the Traditional Text from the first. In the earliest period of the transmission of the text, the most reliable copies were the originals, the autographs, that were circulated in the region that held the autographs. After the writing of the New Testament books came the Majority Text, whose form was that of the autographs. The nearer a reading is to the original, the longer the time span will be for descendants to follow and multiply. The larger the family is, the older the original source must be. It became the most prevailing type of text in the Greek speaking world. From this time, almost all manuscripts follow the Byzantine, the Majority Text, including those used by Erasmus in compiling what would be the Textus Receptus, the text type underlying the King James Bible. Its origins go back to the autographs. Thus, the Majority Text has the strongest claim possible as an authentic representation of the original text based on its dominance in the transmissional history of the New Testament text. The Majority Text is usually called the Byzantine Text by modern critics because these critics acknowledge this was the Greek New Testament text in use during the Byzantine period (AD 312-1453). Before the Protestant Reformation, this Byzantine text was the text for the entire Greek Church, and for more than three centuries after the Reformation, it was the text for the entire Protestant Church. The evidence accumulated is that the Byzantine Text found in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts is that true text. Ninety percent of the manuscripts contain the Traditional Text and are the basis for the King James Bible. The remaining Ten percent will both agree with the Majority Text but also wildly disagree with each other. A very large number of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament survive today. Between 80-90% contain a Greek text which closely resembles the text which was the basis for the King James Version. Ninety- Five percent of the manuscripts belong to the Byzantine tradition which stand behind the KJV. The low figure of 90% is a safe estimate as some scholars believe it to be at least 95%.

Waldensian Bible

The Waldensians in the Italian Alps of northern Italy held to the pure Apostolic faith as far back as the 4th century AD and earlier. The opinions of the Waldenses were not new to Europe in the 11th or 12th centuries. It was because the Waldenses had the Word of God in their own language that they were able to maintain their faith through all those centuries. The Italia manuscripts were faithful to the Majority Text. Later, they prepared the Waldensian Bible. The Waldenses, also known by their historical name as the Vaudois, were a distinct group of Christians with their own Bibles in the time of Constantine. When Constantine declared favor to Christianity, the Waldenses remained standing in opposition to papal Rome. It was their translation of the Bible into Latin which represents the Received Text. Italia is derived from the Italic district, the regions of the Vaudois. In about AD 400, Augustine said that the Italia is preferred to the others as it keeps closer to the words without prejudice to clearness of expression. The Waldensians existed from the earliest of times in northern Italy. For centuries, the churches of Piedmont (the Waldensian churches) maintained their independence, but the time came when Rome insisted upon their submission. When intense persecution came, some apostatized, others moved further into the Italian Alps, while others carried the faith into foreign lands. It was because they had the pure text of the Bible in their own language, that they were especially hated by Rome. The clear teachings of the Bible unveiled the deceptions of the papacy. The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation, they possessed the Bible manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon of the Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions. While under the pressure of long-continued persecution, some compromised their faith, little by little yielding its distinctive principles. Others held fast the truth. Through ages of darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome, who rejected image worship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempests of opposition, they maintained their faith. Though gashed by the Savoyard spear, and scorched by the Romish fagot, they stood unflinchingly for God’s word and His honor. {GC 65.2} They had the Bible hundreds of years before the Reformation. Peter Waldo did not start the Waldensians. The Italia was the ancient translation their forefathers had made from manuscripts very close in time to the originals. The Bible was the primary textbook in their schools. Parents maintained home schools and taught the pure Word to their children. As Bibles were rare, the youth committed the Word to memory. In addition to their duties at home, the youth also worked at making copies of the Bible manuscripts. As the people were conscientious and dedicated, they were not likely to make copyists errors. In the Vaudois churches, their pastors preached only from the Inspired Writings. They held the Bible as the only supreme, infallible authority. Satan had urged on the papal priests and prelates to bury the word of truth beneath the rubbish of error, heresy, and superstition; but in a most wonderful manner it was preserved uncorrupted through all the ages of darkness. It bore not the stamp of man, but the impress of God. Men have been unwearied in their efforts to obscure the plain, simple meaning of the Scriptures, and to make them contradict their own testimony; but like the ark upon the billowy deep, the word of God outrides the storms that threaten it with destruction. {GC 69.2} It is clear that the Waldenses had the original text. As the youth became older, they went out as missionaries. This was the basis of their evangelistic work. The papal leaders saw the danger in this work and that it would eventually destroy the supremacy of Rome. This people were a constant testimony to Rome’s apostasy. Rome was determined to blot them from the earth. This began the most terrible crusades against God’s people in their mountain homes. It was the Waldensian Bible which laid the foundation for the later Protestant French Bible. Leger, a scholar of Waldensian ancestry said that Olivetan’s French Bible of 1537 was “entire and pure.” It was by means of the Vaudois of the valleys that France today has the Bible in her own language.

The Wycliffe Bible

John Wycliffe (1330-1384) is considered to be the first English reformer as he gave England its first Bible. He wrote anti papal papers and carried open war against Rome. Wycliffe taught the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism- salvation through faith in Christ, and the sole infallibility of the Scriptures. The new faith was accepted by nearly one half of the people in England. Roman authorities feared this weapon the most. At this time, there was no law in England prohibiting the Bible. It was during his later years, in 1384, that he translated the Bible. However, it was translated from the Latin Vulgate and contained significant errors. Wycliffe only had access to the Latin Vulgate and not the Italia (the Waldensian Bible). No other sources were available to him. The Greek texts had not yet been collated from the Majority Text manuscripts. Most ancient Bible manuscripts were hidden away in libraries and Wycliffe was not in contact with the Waldenses. John Wycliffe was known as the “morning star of the Reformation.” He was the herald of the reform, for England, as well as for all Christendom. His translation was the first into the English language. As the printing press was not yet known, copies were made by slow and wearisome labor. Yet, the people of England were able to receive the Bible in their own tongue. The Catholic reaction was panic. The common folk labored diligently to make and spread copies of portions of Wycliffe’s Bible. Before reaching the age of Sixty, all of his labors aged him prematurely. While on his death bed, representatives from the four religious orders came to listen to his confession, to retract everything he had said to their injury. John Wycliffe’s response to them was “I shall not die, but live; and again, declare the evil deeds of the friars.” -----J.H. Merle D’Aubigne, b.17, ch.7. They were elated when Wycliffe died. Edicts were immediately issued banning the Wycliffe Bibles. The godly laymen that Wycliffe had trained to go out and preach, (the Lollards), were hunted to death. Neighbors, husbands, wives, parents, children, brothers and sisters, were beguiled or forced to bear witness against each other. The rack and the stake once more claimed their victims. ---Foxe, Christian Martyrs, p. 345.

To be continued in the next article, Part 3.


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