As we discussed in the last article, the KJV used the Bomberg (ben Chayyim) edition, completed about 150 years before the KJV. But scholars do not consider it to be as accurate as the 1977 Biblia Hebraica based on the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices available today. We have been aware of the location of codices for the past two centuries. The Aleppo codex was ‘uncovered’ during the 1958 riots in Syria, where the codex had been kept for four centuries. The Leningrad Codex had been kept in St. Petersburg at the National Library there since 1863. It was lent to Paul Kahle in creating the 1935 Biblica Hebraic. These two codices were invaluable in verifying the language of the authentic Masoretic Text, upon which the King James Old Testament is based.

And note that the text used for the King James version should be regarded as a critical text (not a ‘received text’) since the 47 scholars referenced multiple Bibles, including the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Geneva Bible, to finalize the wording of the Old Testament. Their job was to ascertain what was initially written and then translate the biblical writings into English appropriate to their day. They put faith in the work that had been done before and built upon it.

However, while we can safely say that the comparison between the 1525 Bomberg Hebrew Bible and the 1977 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia shows variants, few, if any, that would alter the text as we know it today. The 1611 King James Version scholars did their work masterfully well – but we should not claim the result was a “perfect Bible.” To go further, in contrast to what a few Fundamentalists have contended, it is not “more inspired” or “more perfect” than what was initially written just because English comprises a more sophisticated language system.


Of course, it would be logical to think that if the advocates of the Received Text of the New Testament disregarded the most ancient manuscripts, they would likely dismiss the most ancient Old Testament manuscripts too. In the case of the New Testament, the oldest manuscripts belonging to the so-called Alexandrian text type, [1] Fundamentalists judge inferior to the 1516 Erasmus “received text.” Consequently, one would suppose they should likewise hold in disdain the most recent 1977 Hebrew Bible that incorporates the Aleppo and Leningrad codices. But this should not be the case. As we will reveal later, while the more recent discoveries of better — yet older — Old Testament manuscripts seem acceptable, in the case of the New Testament’s older manuscripts, Fundamentalists judge them as inferior. Regardless, Fundamentalists remain glued to 500-year-old versions of the Old Testament and the New Testament as the only Bibles we can accept as received texts – expressly, the 1516 Erasmus Greek New Testament and the 1525 Bomberg Old Testament.

Advocates for the King James Version as the “received text” are sincere and passionate about the truth of the scripture. Their viewpoint on scripture does not make them better or worse Christians. However, from my vantage point, their understanding harms the best and most reliable way to support the veracity of the Bible. Advocating against a critical text puts the issue of inspiration at the heart of their argument and forces the decision outsiders must make regarding the Bible’s truth on incidental details and printing mistakes. For them, every word in the text is correct because it is God’s Word (a circular argument). Consequently, the proper approach is brushed aside. Evangelicals prefer to advance their position that the Bible has been proven historically reliable, not “just because the Bible says it is.” The Bible is demonstrably true, in part, because we can show how fulfilled prophecies have occurred in history – whether millennia ago or contemporary to ourselves. Evangelism uses apologetics – not dogmatic claims – to witness to the truth. The Fundamentalist weakens the case for Christianity – sometimes dramatically so. The argument for the ‘received text’ backfires.

Hence, it is important to present this clarification, despite opposition we may experience from otherwise well-meaning brethren. Unfortunately, we should expect that while our theological positions should be the focal point of the debate, the person advocating the Evangelical viewpoint will most likely continue to be slandered and called into question. [2] That just goes with the territory.

This article is drawn from A BIOGRAPHY OF THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE by S. Douglas Woodward.



[1] The Alexandrian text type is judged centuries older than the Antioch/Byzantine text type associated – but not identical – to the Textus Receptus of Erasmus-Stephanus-Beza-Elzevir. The KJV Only community discounts the older in favor of the newer, as the Byzantine text-type only dates back to the ninth century while the Alexandrian text type dates back to the third and fourth centuries A.D., with the extant three codices of the complete Greek Bible: Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus. Recall that the Greek Bible is composed of the Old Greek Septuagint and the Alexandrian text-type likely created in the scriptorium in Alexandria under the direction of the church patriarch and defender of the Trinity at Nicaea, Athanasius, and his dutiful assistant, Thecla. See Barry Setterfield’s insights into the origination of the codices at Begin with the subheading Athanasius for the most relevant information.

[2] I have been called stupid, a heretic, a devil, led by the devil, a moron, and even a Jesuit. The debate typically follows a consistent pattern. The polemic usually follows in this way: The KJV Only advocate offers up one point about the KJV Only view, which comprises the only authoritative, received text we can hold in our hands. After I point out the fallacy of this assertion (just because we can hold a book in our hands doesn’t make it authoritative—it’s what that book states that matters), the ad hominem arguments begin – that is, calling me names. However, I persist in this work because we are all responsible for contending boldly for our faith as we understand it. The Nestle-Aland critical text of today is superior to that of the supposed received text – Erasmus, through Elziver. The 1977 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia is likewise superior to the Bomberg Bible of 1525 and the King James Old Testament that developed using it. This is the definitive way to defend the Scriptures in our time.  

The latest version of this Greek New Testament was just published on March 29, 2019. It may be found at the following location: This was the 29th edition. And it just keeps getting better.



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