KJV Dan Jenkins
In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 400 years.
In our modern day, the King James Bible has been criticized and other translations from other sources of Greek text have been touted as having superior accuracy over the King James Bible. It is important for us to understand why the King James Bible is still the most accurate and beautiful translation we have today. Understanding some of the history of the Greek manuscripts from which the King James Bible was created and their authority and authenticity will help us have a peaceful and trusting confidence that the message contained in the King James bible is the message that was inspired of God for his people.
One of the greatest reasons for using the King James Bible is the Greek text from which it was translated being the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus has been known by several names. It has been known as the Byzantine text, the Traditional Text as well as the Majority Text and the Received Text. The most common names used are the Received text and the Majority Text. The name Majority Text will be explained in the following paragraphs.
The Received Text had authority enough to become itself or by being translated, the Bible of the great Syrian Church; the Waldensian Church of northern Italy; of the Gallic Church in southern France; and of the Celtic Church in Scotland and Ireland; as well as the official Bible of the Greek Catholic Church. In his book, Which Bible?, David Otis Fuller makes a point that bible translations all fall into one of two basic study categories: Those who use a variety of Bibles influenced by the Minority Text (the Nestle/Aland Text); and those who only study Bibles based on the Textus Receptus.
What we need to understand is that the Textus Receptus, in its many names, such as: the (The Received Text, the Byzantine Text or the Majority Text), was accepted as authoritative and accurate because it was based on the vast majority of surviving manuscripts. It is a Greek New Testament text that provided the textual basis for the King James bible. First, the name itself: textus receptus is a Latin phrase that can be translated as the received or agreed upon text. When speaking of the Textus Receptus, one must remember that it is a printed text, not a hand-copied manuscript. The Textus Receptus was created from the byzantine text/Received/Majority Text in the copied manuscripts that were accepted as authoritative for many centuries.
Many of the existing 5,000 plus manuscripts fragments were brought together by various editors such as Lucian (AD 250-312), Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza and the Elzevir brothers over many centuries to form the Greek New Testament text known as Textus Receptus. It was given the name of the Majority Text in the 17th century. The title editors only means that these men compared the same verses in every available surviving manuscript to find the text of the verse that were the same in the most number of manuscripts. Obviously, this was very painstaking, slow deliberate work.
The most notable editor of all was Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) one of the greatest scholars the world has ever known. When the early Protestant Reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries decided to translate the scriptures directly from Greek into the languages of Europe, they selected the Textus Receptus as their foundational Greek New Testament text. It is vitally important to understand why they did so.
During the dark ages the Received Text was practically lost outside of the eastern Greek Church. It was brought back to protestant and baptistic peoples by the labors of the great scholar Erasmus. It is little known that the real editor of the Received Text was Lucian. It is extremely importance to remember that neither Lucian nor Erasmus wrote the original Greek manuscripts, but rather the apostles Mathew, Peter, James, John, Paul. John Mark, and Luke also wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God. These men wrote the original manuscripts of the New Testament under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
So the Textus Receptus was a Greek New Testament created from many fragments of manuscripts from several different centuries. There were many almost complete copies. It is the Greek text that agrees with the most copies and fragments of the earliest surviving manuscripts. Weight was given to the Greek text agreed upon in the majority of the surviving manuscripts. That is how the name Majority Text came to be. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament existing today ranging from small fragments containing two or three verses to nearly entire Bibles. Their ages vary from the second to the sixteenth century.
It may be alarming for some people to find out that every known manuscript does differ in some minor wording. But if we believe that God inspired his word, then by faith, we must accept that he also preserved his word for his people. If the written Word was important enough for God to inspire, it is important enough for him to preserve. Consider these verses: Psalm 12:6 - The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for-ever.
The writing of the Word of God by inspiration is no greater miracle than the miracle of its preservation in the Textus Receptus. Therefore, because of God’s own promise to preserve his word, we can rest our mind that what we have in the King James Bible has the essential truth of what God communicated by inspiration preserved in each verse for our edification and spiritual nourishment.
It is also important to understand that as early as the 3rd century, there was already a two bible tract of the churches of that time. There were those who followed the Byzantine text, which were what the fragments and partial manuscripts that were included in the Textus Receptus used. These churches bodies that kept to the Byzantine text refused to partake in Emperor Constantine’s order to come to the Council of Nicaea in 325.
Then there were those church bodies who followed the minority text, or the Egyptian Alexandrian text where great liberty was taken in copying manuscripts and even deliberate changes made to actually change the text. The Egyptian Alexandrian text were favored by the church bishops who followed Constantine’s Council of Nicaea in 325. That council eventually culminated in the Roman Catholic church in due time. The Alexandrian text was full of deletions and corruptions that favored the doctrines of the future Romish church. The Textus Receptus was - and still is - the enemy of everything the Roman Church teaches. This is an important fact to bear in mind.
The Textus Receptus agrees with the earliest versions of the Bible: Peshitta (AD150) Old Latin Vulgate (AD157), the Italic Bible (AD157) etc. These Bibles were produced some 200 years before the minority Egyptian codices favored by the Roman Church. The Textus Receptus is based on the vast majority (95%) of the 5000 plus Greek manuscripts in existence. That is exactly why it is also called the Majority Text. The Textus Receptus is not mutilated with deletions, additions and amendments, as is the Minority Text. This is by no means a scholarly study of the Textus Receptus, but is meant to be a guide to the basic facts about the Greek text used in the King James bible we love and trust.
You can purchase your own copy of the Textus Receptus in an Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Jay P. Green, Sr. Then You will have the "Textus Receptus" that created the King James Bible. You can also purchase The Interlinear Greek-English N.T. by George Ricker Berry. Both books are available on Amazon.com In both of these books you will find the Textus Receptus from which the KJV was translated in 1611. Literal modern English words appear between the Greek lines and under each word, making it possible for anyone to make an accurate check of all Bibles versions. The KJV text appears in the margins.