Westcott and Hort did not publish their compiled Greek master-text until the exact same day that the English Revised Version (RV) was published in 1881. They knew that the key to their success lay in getting the English translation made from it, though it was not done officially or openly, but surreptitiously.
The translation committee of the English Revised Version, or just RV, thought they were making a mere revision of the KJV, but they ended up making a whole new translation from what turned out to be the WH Greek text. Burgon asked, “how did it come to pass that such evil counsels were allowed to prevail in the Jerusalem Chamber?” (The Revision Revised, 1883). We shall find out.
In 1870 the British government gave permission to revise the KJV. The main revisers worked in England, then their changes were sent to a group in America who made further changes, especially as it related to American usage of the English language, for the American edition:
The object of this Anglo-American enterprise is to adapt King James’s version to the present state of the English language, without changing the idiom and vocabulary, and to the present standard of Biblical scholarship . . . It is not the intention to furnish a new version (which is not needed, and would not succeed), but a conservative revision of the received version, so deservedly esteemed as far as the English language extends. (Biblical Revision: Its Necessity and Purpose, by members of The American Revision Committee. London, 1879)
Notice that the stated purpose was to revise the KJV, based on the Textus Receptus. As further proof, here is part of the report from the UK Committee that met on March 24th of 1870, given by Samuel Newth, one of the revisers:
That in the above Resolutions we do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible, or any alteration of the language except where, in the judgment of the most competent scholars, such change is necessary. . . . To introduce as few alterations as possible into the text of the Authorized Version . . . (Lectures on Bible Revision, Newth, p. 106, 108)
Bishop Charles Ellicott, one of the revisers, wrote a book in May 23, 1870 about the coming revision, Considerations on Revision:
What course would Revisers have us to follow? . . . Would it be well for them to agree on a Critical Greek Text? To this question we venture to answer very unhesitatingly in the negative. . . . we have certainly not yet acquired sufficient critical judgment for any body of Revisers hopefully to undertake such a work as this. (p. 44) We should hardly be far wrong in estimating the amount of changes that would be introduced in any English revised Version of the whole 6944 verses of the New Testament, as not exceeding one for every five verses, or under fourteen hundred in all, very many of these being of wholly unimportant character. (p. 52) . . . the very generally-felt desire for as little change as possible. (p. 99) The question will really turn on the amount of and nature of the changes. If few and good, they will be accepted, if not, they will not meet with acceptance either at home or abroad. (p. 199) We have now, at all events, no fear of an over-corrected Version. (p. 205) (Quoted in, Cloud, p. 116)
That being the case, what transpired that brought about a whole different translation? One with over 36,000 changes? Because WH had other intentions.
The revision was not done like the KJV, where different groups of scholars translated certain books, then the texts were swapped and further worked on by a different group. The RV translation committee all voted on a particular reading, with the majority vote being accepted. And guess who dominated the committee members, WH, which shall be proven shortly.
Samuel Newth, one of the revisers, gives us evidence that they were not using the actual WH text as he tells us how the process of translation took place:
The members of the Company had previously been supplied with sheets, each containing a column of the printed text of the Authorized Version, with a wide margin on either side for suggested emendations–the left hand margin being intended for changes in the Greek text, and the right hand margin for those which related to the English rendering. Upon these sheets each member had entered the result of his own private study of the prescribed portion, and thus came prepared with well-considered suggestions to submit for the judgment of the Company. . . . The Company assembles at eleven a.m. The meeting is opened by prayer . . . The minutes of the last meeting are then read . . . These matters being settled, the Chairman invites the Company to proceed with the revision, and reads a short passage as given in the Authorised Version. The question is then asked whether any textual changes are proposed; that is, any readings that differ from the Greek text as presented in the edition published by Robert Stephen in 1550. If any change is proposed, the evidence for and against is briefly stated, and the proposal considered. The duty of stating this evidence is, by tacit consent, devolved upon two members of the Company, who, from their previous studies, are specially entitled to speak with authority upon such questions– Dr. Scrivener and Dr. Hort, and who come prepared to enumerate particularly the authorities on either side. Dr. Scrivener opens up the matter by stating the facts of the case, and by giving his judgment on the bearings of the evidence. Dr. Hort follows, and mentions any additional matters that may call for notice; and, if differing from Dr. Scrivener’s estimate of the weight of the evidence, gives his reasons and states his own view. After discussion, the vote of the Company is taken, and the proposed reading accepted or rejected. The text being this settled, the Chairman asks for proposals on the rendering. Any member who has any suggestion on his paper then mentions it, and this is taken into consideration . . . (Lectures on Bible Revision, Newth, 1881, pp. 119-120)
As we will learn, Scrivener and Hort were at odds much of the time, but Hort came out the winner the majority of the time. Samuel Hemphill had a Dr. of Divinity from Dublin University and was a professor of Biblical Greek at the same (1888-1889). He wrote a history of the RV:
In short, the three Cambridge Divinity Professors [WH and Lightfoot] and their henchmen, Moulton and Milligan, bore a share in revision that can only be described as “pre-ponderating,” which is equivalent to saying that the proceedings of the Company, if it had not comprised these members, would have been of an entirely different character. Nor is it difficult to understand that many of their less resolute and decided colleagues must often have been completely carried off their feet by the persuasiveness, resourcefulness, and zeal of Hort, backed by the great prestige of Lightfoot, the popular Canon of St. Paul’s, and the quiet determination of Westcott, who set his face as flint. (Hemphill, A History of the Revised Version of the New Testament, 1906, p. 49. Quoted in Bacon, p. 107)
So it appears that WH, and a few others who voted with them, were controlling the revision. Two of WH’s team later wrote a defense of the RV but revealed some important information:
It will be remembered that the treatise which we have quoted so largely, we mean the Introduction to the Greek Testament of Dr. Westcott and Dr. Hort, was not published until after the publication of the Revised Version. Nor was it at any time, we must observe, privately communicated to the Revisers. It was impossible for the Revision Company, therefore, to pronounce (if it was so inclined) a corporate opinion on its merits. (The Revisers and the Greek of the New Testament, by two members of the New Testament Company, Charles J. Ellicott and Edwin Palmer, 1882, page 27-28)
Since it is clear that the revisers were not using the WH text, how was it that the RV reflects the WH text? WH made sure that their view of the text was the one accepted. However, the above-underlined sentence is contradicted by Hemphill:
Moreover, it was well known that Hort and Westcott had been working for many years at an edition of the Greek Testament (an edition which, when at length was published, was found to have been compiled on most radical principles); and, not only so, but these two Revisers were in the habit of entrusting privately the proof sheets of their forthcoming text to the other members of the Company, and were punctually present at the meetings, where they could expound and enforce the principles on which that text rested, as well as contend for the particular readings of the text itself; a text, be it always remembered, which had never been even seen by the public, nor subjected to the ordeal of independent criticism, inasmuch as it was not published till the very day on which the Revised Version came out. Dr. Sanday says of that, that “it was evidently no accidental coincidence. But be that as it may, if that text and its underlying principles had been thoroughly sifted by discussion, as they were afterwards, the Revisers, as we now know, and as indeed the Chairman himself practically admitted, would have seen reason to distrust many of their own conclusions; but, as it was, they completely overlooked the fact that it had not been subjected to any criticism whatever; and they took the surely too venturesome step of adopting it on the recommendation of its naturally fond parents.” (Hemphill, A History, p. 51-52. Quoted in Bacon, p. 115)
The above quote accuses WH of secretly giving pages of their text to some of the revisers, ones that they knew would vote with WH and wanted to do more than revise the KJV. The reason Hemphill made the accusation is because Westcott wrote to Hort July 1st, 1870 and stated that very thing:
The Revision on the whole surprised me by prospects of hope. I suggested to Ellicott a plan of tabulating and circulating emendations before our meeting, which may prove valuable. (Life, Vol. 1, 1896, p. 392-393)
This accusation was made again in 1951:
Westcott and Hort had been working together on their text since 1853; in 1870 they printed a tentative edition for private distribution only. This they circulated under pledge of secrecy within the company of New Testament revisers, of which they were members. It soon became evident that the New Testament committee was not going to be content merely to revise the Authorized Version, but was determined to revise the underlying Greek text radically. (Alfred Marti, A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Textual Theory, p. 60) (Quoted in Cloud, p. 119)
Now, the first quote on this subject above was written by Ellicott, in which he denied that emendations were privately circulated. Why would it be necessary for Ellicott to make such a denial? It seems to me suspicious that he would even say that; was such an accusation made that he felt a need to deny it? Then we have the word of Westcott saying that he suggested to Ellicott that they circulate emendations privately. This means that Ellicott was part of the underhanded dealings, and it means he lied about it in the above quote.
So it appears to be more than WH ramrodding the committee with their view of the text, but a conspiracy by liberal clergy on the committee to make the Bible into a liberal — WH revision. So it was no coincidence that the RV was very close to WH’s text. WH and their cohorts were clearly in control:
The dominant faction of textual critics, having at their beck and call a working majority of amateurs ready for the sound of the division-bell, push[ed] their unproved, unpublished, and uncriticized theories to the utmost limits, showing neither reverence for the traditional text nor consideration for its defenders, but using their tyrant majority to practically closure them. (Hemphill, A History, p. 62. Quoted in Bacon, p. 113)
Hort wrote a letter to his wife on July 25th, 1871 in which he spoke of battling with the other committee members over the text, and how he usually won:
We have had some stiff battles to-day in Revision, though without any ill feeling, and usually with good success. But I more than ever felt how impossible it would be for me to absent myself. (Hort, Life, Vol. 2, p. 146)
Rev. W. G. Humphry, a member of the revision committee, later wrote a defense of the important changes in the RV, yet he revealed some important negative information:
You will readily believe that neither I nor any of my colleagues is able to stand up for the Revision as the product of absolute wisdom. Each of us, times without number, has been outvoted by a “tyrant majority.” (A Word on the Revised Version of the New Testament, 1881, p. 21)
WH led a “tyrant majority”, which can only mean that their views were pushed through time and time again, even though everyone else did not agree. In 1897, George Salmon, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin wrote a general book on textual criticism. Even though he took a favorable view of WH and the RV, he reveals the personality of Hort and how it was that he dominated the translation:
Possibly it may be found on investigation that the strict orthodoxy of the Revisers had something to do with the stringency of their conditions for admission into their text, and that critics who ascribe less authority to the very words of the sacred writers may be more lenient in their acknowledgment of a claim to authority of the kind.
However this may be, it was from the conservative side that a storm of opposition arose which owed something of its violence to the fact that some of the most startling of the results of the new revision were made known without any explanation of the system through which these results were arrived at. It was through the publication of the Revised Version of the New Testament that English readers became generally aware of the exact degree to which their English New Testament was liable to be affected by learned criticism of the Greek text. Westcott and Hort were members of the Committee which prepared the Revised Version, and on the question of various readings they exercised a predominating influence. It was a study to which they had devoted their whole lives, while more than half of their brother members of the Committee had given no special attention to the subject, and could not without immodesty dissent from critics of such eminence.
My countryman, Dr. Hort, was a man of perfervidum ingenium, who held his opinions with an intensity of conviction which he could not fail to communicate to those who came in contact with him, while his singular skill as an advocate enabled him with small difficulty to dissipate all objections to his own views, I have often admired the remarkable independence of judgment exhibited by his colleague, Westcott, who, on several occasions, has expressed inability to adopt decisions of Hort’s; knowing, as I do how difficult it was for any one to come within the sphere of his influence (not to say to carry on work in conjunction with him) without being made to adopt all his conclusions. (Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Salmon, page 11-13)
This says that the conservative members were upset that the liberal disbelievers, the ones who “ascribe less authority” to the Bible, were coming up with changes without any evidence that those changes were needed or correct. Notice the Latin words, perfervidum ingenium. Ingenium means character, and perferfid means: “marked by overwrought or exaggerated emotion : excessively fervent” (www.merriam-webster.com). It also said:
The adjectives “fervent,” “fervid,” and “perfervid” all derive from the Latin verb ferv?re, meaning “to boil,” and suggest a bubbling up of intense feeling.
So it appears that Hort had a strong personality, and was able to exert his will over other people. He always got his way. Therefore, it was because of his domineering personality that he was able to make sure that his views became the agreed upon views. In other words, he’s always right, your always wrong, and that’s all there is to it! My mother would call that being stubborn and bull-headed.
In short, what resulted was a translation that greatly resembled WH’s unpublished Greek text. It is no coincidence that WH’s text was published the exact same day as the RV New Testament. They wanted the two to become connected, and so they were. Future English translations have used revisions of WH’s text as the main text.
But there is more to this story. I have shown quotes from both the British and American revision committees that the original commission was to revise the KJV. It specifically called for as few changes as possible. Yet, because WH high-jacked the translation, there were many thousands of changes and it became a whole different translation.
So here is my question: Does this sound like something that God, in his providence would have brought about? Is that the way God works? Through a conspiracy of liberal scholars to force their views upon the rest of the committee? No. So the means by which the Bible was changed was dishonest.
In 1882 George W. Samson (1819-1896) published a chronicle on the details of the revision:
The casual first glance over the entire work showed that that revision was confined almost exclusively to omissions from the received Greek text; which omissions were justified only by a class of manuscripts ancient, indeed, and valuable as relics, but having the following peculiarities . . . They were transcribed by Egyptian copyists, most of whom were ignorant of Greek, in the age just after Constantine, and thence onward for three centuries; a period when the demand for copies was pressing. . . . lastly, the contrasted weight allowed to the uncials by the Canterbury revisers and the two scholars whose new view controlled their judgment. (Samson, The English Revisers’ Greek Text, Shown to be Unauthorized Except by Egyptian Copies Discarded by Greeks and to be Opposed to the Historic Text of All Ages and Churches, p. 10, 13).
Look at the underlined portion of the last line in the above quote, it again shows that WH “controlled” the decisions made. Take careful note of the title of the above-quoted book; it comes right out and says that the RV is “Unauthorized Except by Egyptian Copies” and not of the historic Greek text, as originally laid out in the rules of the translation committee.
Criticized by the Revisers
I have already given some criticism from revisers, by the end of the process, many members of the translation committee believed they went farther than they were authorized and appointed to go, and were very unhappy and wrote articles and books denouncing the RV. Samuel Hemphill mentions several people who opposed the revision they helped to create:
. . . even some of the most learned of the Revisers themselves, such as Trench, Charles Wordsworth, Moberly, Roberts, and even Bickersteth and Kennedy, had written of it in such a way as to indicate to even the least careful reader their conviction of its unfitness to supersede the older version. (Hemphill, A History of the Revised Version, p. 129) (Quoted in Cloud, p. 148)
W. Samson again said:
. . . few, if any, outside of the original and controlling majority had the conception that anything more than a revision of the translation of the text generally received in all branches of the Christian Church [KJV] . . . was proposed. The fact is now made public that some, in the company of revisers selected from the English Church itself, were, from the first, as much surprised as the Christian world at large have been; for the Bishop of St. Andrews, in his late charge to his synod, states, as to his own impressions of the revisers’ work during its progress: “The more I saw of the work, the more it appeared to me that we were going beyond the purpose for which, as I understood it, we have been appointed.” . . . [and later he said] “I was unable to discover . . . any actual consensus of scholars to demand the changes that have been made.” (The English Revisers’ Greek Text, page 9-10)
One of the mentioned revisers was Bishop Charles Wordsworth. His nephew wrote a memoir of his ministry years and reported:
He did not, indeed, find himself in harmony with the methods and actions of the majority of his colleagues, and his elaborate “Final Suggestions on New Testament Revision: the Four Gospels” printed in 1879, disclose the fact that he considered many of the alterations unnecessary and pedantic . . . He feared rightly that the revisers ran the risk of preventing the popular acceptance of their work by the amount of changes they introduced, and this particularly because the first part of that work was the Gospels, in which needless alteration would be most generally felt and most keenly resented. (John Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth, 1899, p. 211)
John Wordsworth reported that his uncle received a letter in 1881 from Dr. Roberts, another member of the committee, in which he also expressed dissatisfaction:
“Since I wrote my “Companion,” my judgment as to the Revised Version has become much more unfavourable. Indeed I cannot but look upon it, in its present state, as being a deplorable failure.” (Ibid, p. 212) Charles Wordsworth commented that his own opinion did not go as far as Roberts’, nevertheless, he said, “I was seriously dissatisfied with the result” (Ibid, p. 213).
The London Quarterly of Oct. 1881 reviewed the RV; the view of the article was reported in The English Revisers’ Greek Text:
The writer [Burgon] declares that the Revision is “founded on an entirely new revision of the received Greek Text,” and denounces it as a “serious” assumption thus to commit the English Universities. He urges that the “common text” has been Divinely guarded in numberless Greek copies, in versions and in early Christian citations. He shows that it is the Egyptian uncials which have misled Tregelles and Tischendorff: and declares they have “established a tyrannical ascendancy over the imaginations of the critics.” He fills pages with illustrations of their disagreement among themselves; and dwells on the doubt thrown on the last twelve verses of Mark’s Gospel; on the conforming of the Lord’s prayer to Luke’s abbreviated abstract of the Sermon and Prayer; and on the change in the angel’s song over Bethlehem. He traces the errors of the uncials to four classes and causes: accident, design, assimilation and mutilation. (Samson, The English Revisers’ Greek Text, p. 132)
Burgon, Samson, and many others of the time understood the high-jacking that WH had pulled off. Hemphill wrote that Scrivener was one of those who opposed WH:
From his [Scrivener’s] writings the theologians of England might have felt reassured that any revision in which he was to have part would certainly be on moderate lines. But, as a matter of fact, although Scrivener was one of the most assiduous of the Revisers (having 399 attendances out of a possible 407 to his credit), and never failed to state his case fully, he found himself constantly in a minority, and was in truth very often voted down by sheer force of numbers when Hort and Westcott opposed him, as they generally did. Not that Scrivener was prepared to give an unqualified support to the traditional text, or blind to the value of the great Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts. Indeed no one who has read his Introduction, much less his Collation of the Sinaitic Manuscript, can make so silly an assertion. . . . Probably nine-tenths of the textual struggles and “countless divisions” at the table in that old Jerusalem Chamber were about that very question as to the proper amount of weight to be accorded to the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. Hort and Westcott, claiming pre-eminence for their consensus, while Scrivener pleaded for caution. And, as Hort and Westcott outnumbered Scrivener in the ration of two to one, so their followers, and therefore often came out of the conflict with flying colours. (Hemphill, A History, p. 55-56. Quoted in Bacon, p. 109-110)
Dr. Scrivener wrote about WH’s Greek text in his own work on textual criticism in 1883:
But there is little hope for the stability of their imposing structure, if its foundations have been laid on the sandy ground of ingenious conjecture: and since barely the smallest vestige of historical evidence has ever been alleged in support of the views of these accomplished editors, their teaching must either be received as intuitively true, or dismissed from our consideration as precarious, and even visionary. (A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament Vol. 2, p. 285)
By “visionary” he does not mean innovative, or ingenious, he means imaginary.
Criticized by Many Eminents
Not only did some of the revisers, speak out against the RV, but many eminent ministers and professors spoke out against it after it was published; a full account would fill more chapters. (If you want a full accounting, see For Love of the Bible, by David Cloud, which is 509 pages long.)
James Brookes said in 1896:
It is not only true that the spirit which actuated the Revisers was entirely literary, but, alas! They compromised the truth of God in some respects. They allowed men, for the sake of their scholarship, to be put into their company, and were forced to yield to their erroneous views of the Bible‘s teachings. ‘What communion hath light with darkness?’ 2 Cor. vi. 14. (James H. Brookes, ed., The Truth or Testimony for Christ, vol. xxii, 1896, pp. 89-91) (Quoted in Cloud, p. 178)
The attacks continued into the 19th century when George Sayles Bishop spoke against the RV in his 1910 book, The Doctrines of Grace: and Kindred Themes:
That a few changes might be made in both Testaments, for the better, no man pretends to deny; but that all the learned twaddle about ‘intrinsic and transcriptional probability,’ ‘conflation,’ ‘neutral texts,’ ‘the unique position of B’ (the Vatican manuscript) . . . that all this theory is false and moonshine and, when applied to God’s Word, worse than that; I firmly believe. (p. 61) The Revised Version weakens and removes the deity of Christ in many places— . . . 1 Timothy 3:1, ‘Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.’ The Revised Version leaves out Theos, God, and renders it “. . . He who was manifest in the flesh,” – i.e., the manifested One was only one phase – the highest – of godliness, the precise rendering for which all the Unitarians have been contending the last 1,800 years. . . . Dr. Scrivener, the foremost English critic, says it is Theos. . . . (p. 78)
In 1921 William Wallace Everets (1849-1926) said:
They had been warned by Convocation to make as few alterations as possible, and to make no changes in the Received Text unless the evidence for them was decidedly preponderating. Nevertheless, they went on changing until they had altered the reading of the Greek text in 5,337 places, within a few hundred of those made by Westcott and Hort. Philip Schaff counted 36,191 corrections in the Revised Version, or four and a half to each verse. (Everts, “The Westcott and Hort Text Under Fire,” Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March 1921. Quoted in Cloud, p. 181)
Before the RV was published, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) said:
I am afraid when the new translation of the Bible comes out it will be better to light our fires with it than to give up the old version . . . (Sermon: “Love’s Medicines and Miracles,” Jan. 21, 1877) (God’s Word in our Hands: The Bible Preserved for Us, Williams, p. 62)
Once the RV came out, even though Spurgeon occasionally used it in his sermons, overall, he did not like it and expressed fear that it would become the dominant Bible because of the quality of its Old Testament:
For that Revised Version I have but little care as a general rule, holding it to be by no means an improvement upon our common Authorized Version. It is a useful thing to have it for private reference, but I trust it will never be regarded as the standard English translation of the New Testament. The Revised Version of the Old Testament is so excellent, that I am half afraid it may carry the Revised New Testament upon its shoulders into general use. (Sermon: “Our Own Dear Shepherd,” Nov. 20, 1885) (Ibid, page 63)
In another sermon he said:
Never did a translation of the New Testament fail more completely than this Revised Version has done as a book for general reading: but as an assistant to the student it deserves honorable mention, despite its faults. It exhibits here and there special beauties . . . (Sermon July 19, 1885) (Ibid, page 64)
It has a few improved readings but has corrupted far more than it improved.
Loved by Unitarians
WH insisted that a Unitarian, Dr. George Vance Smith (1816-1902), be on the RV committee. So you know that Smith voted with WH. They even asked Dr. John Newman to be part of the translation committee, a Church of England Bishop who defected to the Roman Catholic Church and took 150 Protestant ministers with him, but he refused. (Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, Benjamin Wilkenson, Takoma Park, 1930, p. 147.) The modern Greek text committee has, or at least had for some years, a Roman Catholic on the translation committee that decides the text.
As proof that the WH and modern translations do in fact make important doctrinal changes, the Unitarian response to the RV was happiness and joy, because they could now point to various verses to support their views, against traditional Christian doctrine. George V. Smith published a book in which he showed the importance of the changes in the RV for Unitarians, Texts and Margins of the Revised New Testament affecting Theological Doctrine Briefly Reviewed:
. . . it will be seen that the changes which have been introduced in the revised version have, in several conspicuous instances, an important bearing upon theological doctrine, as usually derived from the New Testament. It is the design of the present track to point out some of these instances, and to offer a few remarks in elucidation of their theological import. (p. 6)
Unitarians do not believe in the concept of “atonement” because they do not believe that Jesus was God, and do not believe in the wrath of God upon mankind, therefore, there is no need for the Son of God to have died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So they believe in Universalism. Smith said:
In the former of these passages “reconciliation” having taken the place of “atonement,” this familiar word is no longer to be found in the New Testament. . . . Thus the doctrine of Atonement, at least in its older and grosser forms, widely accepted as it has been and still is, must in time itself disappear from Christian theology, along with the phrases in which it has so long been supposed to find expression. It is a sufficiently curious result of the Revision, that three such expressions as “faith in his blood,” “atonement,” “for Christ’s sake,” should have been obliterated from the Pauline writings, so far as the revised text is concerned. Their removal, we may well believe, can be only favourable to the diffusion of ideas of the Divine love and mercy higher and better than have yet prevailed among the great multitudes of English speaking Christians. (p. 30-32) Since the publication of the revised New Testament, it has been frequently said that the changes of translation which the work contains are of little importance from a doctrinal point of view; in other words, that the great doctrines of popular theology remain unaffected, untouched by the results of the revision. How far this assertion is correct, the careful reader of the foregoing pages will be able to judge for himself. (p. 45) One remarkable instance in which the epithet “God” was given to Christ (i Tim. iii. 16) has been excluded from the text, and others of similar kind are admitted by the Revision to be uncertain. . . . (46) The only instance in the New Testament in which the religious worship or adoration of Christ was apparently implied, has been altered by the Revision: “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,” is now to be read “in the name” . . . . Moreover, no alteration of text or of translation will be found anywhere to make up for this loss’ as, indeed, it is well understood that the New Testament contains neither precept nor example which really sanction the religious worship of Jesus Christ. . . . The changes just enumerated are manifestly of great importance, and are they not wholly unfavourable to the popular theology? Many persons will deny this, but it is hard to see on what grounds they do so. Or, if it be true that the popular orthodoxy remains unaffected by such changes, the inference is unavoidable that popular orthodoxy must be very indifferent as to the nature of the foundation on which it stands. (p. 47) (Smith, 1881)
Take very good notice of the underlined words above. He admits that the changes are important, and are “unfavorable” to orthodox theology! He even goes so far as to say that if orthodoxy is not affected, then it is “indifferent” to the basis of its doctrine, which is the Bible. Why? Because the Bible has been changed enough to affect doctrine, of course. It can mean nothing else! Those changes favorable to Unitarianism could NOT have happened without the strong support of WH. In other words, they pushed those changes through. You will understand why they did it in the chapter about WH’s liberal theology.
Smith twice refers to “popular theology,” which refers to the dominant theology of the day, which is historical orthodoxy. Smith even wrote and published a book in 1871 titled, The Bible and Popular Theology. WH also refers to orthodoxy as “popular theology” in a later chapter.
Unitarian doctrine teaches that only the Father is God, Jesus was just a man who God used. They reject the doctrine of original sin, and eternal hell. Unitarianism is the modern-day Arianism.
I will not attempt to quote any more of Smith’s 50-page discussion of the changes that favor Unitarian doctrine as it gets into the details of Greek grammar, etc. It shall suffice to say that he was very happy with many of the changes. Yet, even he believed the changes were so numerous that WH went too far with the 36,000+ changes. Hemphill said:
[Smith] wrote that the book [the RV] contained “no small amount of elaborate over-correction,” that “a great proportion” of “the great mass of little changes” was “uncalled for”; that they “broke in upon the old familiar music of the Authorized Version without any gain of sense by way of compensation,” and that they, “went some way, if not to justify, at least to illustrate the doubts and fears of those who were against revision.” (Hemphill, A History, p. 92-93. Quoted in Bacon, p. 118)
Another Unitarian book, which A. A. Bacon found, goes even farther in its declarations of love and support for the RV; Notes on the Amended English Bible, with Special Reference to Certain Texts in the Revised Version of the Old and New Testaments Bearing Upon the Principles of Unitarian Christianity, by Henry Ierson, 1887. Here are a few quotes that contain important information:
It is now admitted that the old Version needed correcting, and that the plea urged by Unitarians for a purer Scripture was not made without solid, reasonable grounds. . . . The intense eagerness with which the publication of the New Testament Revision was received arose, no doubt, in some degree from curiosity, and it is probable that many ordinary readers have not even yet fully realized the immense difference it makes, that they have now a new, though it be only a revised version of the Scriptures placed in their hands. But it will be indeed unfortunate if the public are not encouraged to make good use of their present advantages. . . . (p. v-vi) It will be to render an enormous service to the growth of Christendom in religious intelligence and charity if its scholars and teachers will really help the people to appreciate the wealth of improvement now for the first time laid open to all, and with commanding authority, in the Revised Version of the Bible; which is indeed, to the English-speaking people everywhere, in a really important practical sense, almost a new revelation. . . . the number of important amended texts having been found much greater than was at first supposed. . . . (p. vi-vii) It has been asserted that not one of the numerous alterations which have been made in the Authorized Version affected “one tittle or iota of the Christian faith,” meaning by this the sum of Church dogmas. How far this is true will be seen from the following pages. We believe that much of the ground on which certain Church dogmas have been maintained has been cut away by the removal of spurious passages and interpolated phrases, and by the correction of many serious errors of translation. The reader has only to compare the old form with the new, to understand how great has been the gain to liberal theology. (p. 2) It is remarkable that so many of these changes occur in what have been considered orthodox proof-texts, the Revisers adopting corrections which have long been contended for by Unitarian scholars. . . . (p. 3. Quoted in Bacon, p. 127-129)
Who shall we believe? Those who push modern Bibles with the claim that no doctrines are affected? Or the Unitarians who rejoice in the changes because those changes were the very ones they long sought after, because those changes support Unitarian doctrine? Ierson said the RV is “almost a new revelation” because of all the important changes against Orthodoxy and toward Arianism. Yes, it is remarkable indeed that such changes made their way into an Orthodox Bible, and even more remarkable that those changes remain to this day.
The evidence is strong that WH were making a liberal, Unitarian Bible, and much more evidence will yet be given. They were not conservative or evangelical in any form, as will be proven in other chapters, but very liberal and likely secret Unitarians, and they wanted their Bible to support their views.
Hort wrote a letter to Rev. John Ellerton in 1853:
Our object is to supply clergymen generally, schools, etc., with a portable Gk. Test., which shall not be disfigured with Byzantine corruptions. (Hort, Life, Vol. 1, p. 250)
By “Byzantine corruptions” he meant that the Bible, in his eyes, had been changed by the Orthodox Christians of the Eastern Roman Empire. In another letter to Rev. John Ellerton, in 1870, written after they began work on the RV translation, Hort said:
We have successfully resisted being warned off dangerous ground, where the needs of revision required that it should not be shirked . . . 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. . . . and the Training Colleges will now more than ever be the places into which our whole strength must be thrown. (Life and Letters, Vol. 2, pp. 139-140.)
Hort admitted that the people who were angry at what he was going, had reason to be, and again stated his plan to target the seminaries as places to spread their changed Bible they were creating. His plan was implemented and worked beyond his wildest expectation. Seminaries today are the places that are pushing belief in the corrupted Bibles, and teaching lies about the truth of Scripture, lies about the Textus Receptus, and lies about the Byzantine text. The seminaries are the places that turn out the text “experts” who keep making changes to the Bible.
It is disturbing that a fellow teaches falsehoods because he cannot accept the genuine truth backed up by history, and the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that the same thing happened here that took place in connection with the theory of evolution. One of the reasons that many people jumped onto the theory of evolution was because they did not want to believe that God created the world. They want evolution to be true so much that they believe nonsensical theories with no evidence to support it. In the same way, many lukewarm preachers and seminary professors love the lukewarm Bibles. And ordinary Christians blindly believe what they are being told, that the new Bibles are fully trustworthy.
The American edition of the RV, the ASV, had two Unitarians working on it, Ezra Abbot and Joseph H. Thayer, who produced the famous Thayer’s Greek dictionary which is still widely used today. This makes me wonder just how accurate the Thayer dictionary is.
Many people believe that the RV was the first Bible made from the WH Greek text, but as we have learned in this chapter, the RV was supposed to be a slight revision of the KJV, not a Bible made from WH’s Greek text. But it ended up that way because WH dominated the translation committee, and made sure their view of the text was the one accepted. Then they published their Greek text the very same day as the RV was published, and so the public assumed the RV was officially a translation of WH’s text.