Early Church Fathers and the TR Tradition, part 1

The church fathers before 400 a.d. quote the Traditional text or the Greek text that supports the KJB over the Critical Text tradition in a 3:2 preponderance of the time (2630/1753 quotes). The early church fathers quoted the TR tradition and extensively. See John William Burgon, The Traditional Text, 1896, 99-101. While doing undergraduate work, the quotes of the church fathers were enough for a non-TR professor to say, and I quote, “The TR/KJB position is the only logically defensible position, but don’t get the idea I’m in your camp.”

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

3 thoughts on “Early Church Fathers and the TR Tradition, part 1

  1. Thanks for this. They say great minds think alike. Well, sort of. Or maybe lesser minds get good ideas for thinking for great minds! 🙂

    I am looking at/for statements by the church fathers that support the doctrine of preservation. (Since Dan Wallace thinks it is a new doctrine not formally stated before 1646.) I don’t expect to find many direct statements (unless possibly about the Old Testament), just because of the nature of things in the early days of church history. But I have found a few I think presuppose it.

    Is Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study available for purchase anywhere (even a used copy). They did not have it when I searched Amazon, and have not found it elsewhere.

    Thanks again. Keep up the good work.


    1. Robert, thanks for the inquiry. The following citations are in Vol 2 of the Standard Sacred Text series, An Exegetical Grounding for a Standard Sacred Text. Athanasius is commenting on Psalm 119:89; Jerome/Luther on Palm 12:7, as is Michael Ayguan. I trust this is helpful. Also note Dr. Richard A. Muller’s comment. He was the Chair of my Th.M. thesis committee. As for Fundamentalism’s Folly? its copyright is problematic. Much of its content is dated and most of the theological argument will be absorbed into Volume 3 of the Standard Sacred Text series, A Theological Grounding for a Standard Sacred Text.
      Peter, Sr.

      1. Athanasius (298-373)

      In Discourse 2 against the Arians, Athanasius (298-373) references Psalm 119:89. Note the comparison he makes with the “successive” reasoning capacity of his opponents with the unchanging word of God. He writes,

      For observe, many and various are men’s words which pass away day by day; because those that come before others continue not, but vanish. Now this happens because their authors are men, and ideas which are successive; and what strikes them first and second, that they utter; so that they have many words, and yet after them all nothing at all remaining; for the speaker ceases and his word forthwith is spent. But God’s Word is one and the same, and, as it is written The Word of God endureth for ever, not changed, not before or after another, but existing the same always. Philip Schaff, ed., The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 368.

      2. Jerome (342-420)
      Luther’s 1519 commentary on this passage contains not only his interpretation but also that of Jerome’s despite the Latin rendering, “keep us,” preserve us.” Also note that Luther has three possible interpretations of this passage: the words, the saints, and the ungodly.
      Martin Luther, Complete Commentary on the First Twenty-two Psalms, 1519, Vol 2, translated by Henry P. Cole (London: Printed for the author, by T. Bensley, 1826), 27. Ver. 7. — Thou, O Lord, shall ‘preserve us: thou shall guard us from this generation for ever.

      Beginning with the interpretation supported by Jerome’s Latin text (342-420), Luther’s translation agrees with the Hebrew, “them”:
      “And he prays God that his words (eloquia) may be guarded, after the manner of protection, that the ungodly might not pollute them. And instead of “thou shalt preserve us,” it is in the Hebrew “thou shall preserve them”; and it refers to the words of God, as Hieronymus (Jerome) translates it.

      See Charles A. Briggs and Emilie Grace Briggs, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms, International Critical Commentary (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1906–1907), 99: אַתָּה] [Thou] emph.—תִּשְׁמְרֵם] [“shalt keep them”]…J, Aq., Θ [that is, the Latin Version of Jerome, the Greek Version of Aquila, and the Greek Version of Theodotian] agree with H [the Hebrew Masoretic text] and refer [the suffix] of the first [verb] [that is, “them”] to the divine words.

      Luther’s Hymn: “Look down, O Lord, from heaven behold”
      Ach Gott bom Himmel sieh barein
      “Look down, O Lord, from heaven behold”
      Salvum me fac, Domine
      “Lord, Save me!”

      Psalm 12
      Title: The Word of God, and the Church

      The Silver seven times tried is pure
      From all adulteration;
      So, through God’s Word, shall men endure
      Each trial and temptation:
      Its worth gleams brighter through the cross,
      And, purified from human dross,
      It shines through every nation.

      Thy truth thou wilt preserve, O Lord,
      From this vile generation,
      Make us to lean upon thy Word,
      With calm anticipation.
      The wicked walk on every side
      When, ‘mid thy flock, the vile abide
      In power and exaltation.

      Lambert, Luther’s Hymns, 52.

      3. Michael Ayguan (1340-1416)
      On Psalm 12 7 Ayguan, presents a 14th c. case for the King James Version’s translation, commenting, “Keep them: that is, not as the passage is generally taken, Keep or guard Thy people, but Thou shalt keep, or make good thy words: and by doing so, shalt preserve him—him, the needy, him the poor—from this generation.

      Neale, Commentary on the Psalms, 181. I am indebted to Dr. Richard A. Muller, P. J. Zondervan Chair of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI, for his comments regarding this essay. Dr. Muller notes, “Here we do have the use of one option determined by the Hebrew – i.e., the v. 6 antecedent—but the choice of the antecedent is what limits the exegesis, and in fact excludes the broader interpretation of the ‘them’ as a reference to Israel and God’s people generally that is far more frequently (I think) the path of interpretation.”


      1. Thanks for your thoughts and quotations, as well as information about the book. I got together what I was working on and posted it today.

        Many of the early writings may not specifically detail the doctrine of preservation, yet move on the presupposition that they have the writings of the apostles and prophets. I also think Wallace misses or misrepresents how creeds and confessions work. Often there is no reason to address something until it becomes an issue.


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