The Trinitarian Bible Society Textus Receptus

We here at are often asked, “Which TR do you think is standard Greek NT?” Our reply is, “The book pictured above, the Trinitarian Bible Society Textus Receptus.”

Often the response we get from our opposing interlocutors is that the TBS TR is that the it is “back translated” from the KJV. This is a rather banal and uncharitable way of putting it. The short of it is that Scrivener took Beza’s 1598 and amended it based on the textual choices accepted by the King James Version translators.

That is, Scrivener took a look at the translation choices made by the KJV translators and extrapolated from the translation the Greek readings the KJV translators decided to translate into the English. He then made adjustments to Beza’s edition of the TR, thus making another edition of the TR.

Now before you cry foul, consider the widely accepted and lauded method of the critical text position. When formulating the N/A 28, UBS 5th, or the ECM there are a range of readings that could be included in the Greek text. The editors take a look at the evidence for a specific reading and from that evidence put one reading in the body of the text and the rest in the apparatus or in a kind of textual footnote at the bottom of the page. There is nothing inherently wrong in examining the evidence and coming to a conclusion about which reading should be in the text and which should be relegated to a textual footnote. On this we can agree.

[As an aside, error enters the scenario when these editors tell the Church that the reading in the body of the text IS the New Testament. Greek NT editors have neither the power nor the authority to make such a claim. Only the people of God through the leading of the Spirit of God through the word of God accepted by faith can deem this or that the New Testament.]

Back to the point, all Scrivener did is use the KJV as a guide to identify the original readings chosen by the KJV translators to be translated and then put those readings in Beza’s 1589 Greek NT while relegating others to the textual footnotes, so to speak. So, where the average modern evangelical text critic employs the evidence of the manuscript tradition, Scrivener employed the evidence via the KJV translators choices regarding a specific original reading as manifest in the KJV translation. He then made changes to Beza’s 1589 Greek NT based on that textual evidence.

So how different is Beza’s 1589 TR and Scrivener’s TR? The total places is ~126 places in the whole NT. You can find a helpful list at this website. Here are a couple examples of such differences:

1.) Matthew 1:23 – Beza [they] vs Scrivener [you]
2.) Matthew 20:15 – Beza [Or is] vs Scrivener [Is]
3.) Mark 16:14 – Beza [But afterward] vs. Scrivener [Afterward]
4.) Mark 16:20 – Beza [omitted: Amen] vs. Scrivener [Amen]
5.) Luke 7:45 – Beza [she] vs. Scrivener [I]

To be clear, the readings on the right are representative of the readings the KJV translators chose from among the manuscript witnesses. And as you can see from these examples and our Critical Text interlocutors should readily admit, the differences between Beza and Scrivener are relatively minor and do not “affect any major doctrine.”

In sum, the TBS TR is an edition of the TR which bears witness to the original language textual choices of the KJV translators. It is not that Scrivener made changes to Beza’s TR so that there would be a Greek NT to finally underly the KJV. No, Scrivener made changes to Beza’s TR in order to reflect the original language textual choices of the KJV translators and specifically those readings that were different from Beza’s choices.

Then by the grace of the everlasting God, and unbeknownst to the KJV translators, their textual choices and the English translation born from those readings ended up being accepted by the people of God by the leading of the Spirit through the words of God accepted by faith and as such that translation is and has been the standard sacred text of the English-speaking believing community for over 400 years.

2 thoughts on “The Trinitarian Bible Society Textus Receptus

  1. Thanks for the accurate description of the work of Scrivener. It’s very annoying when popular internet apologists on the modern critical text side characterize Scrivener’s TR as a “back-translation” of the KJV. It’s not accurate, and they know better (because it’s been pointed out to them hundreds of times). For them to continue doing so is nothing more than a dishonest debate tactic meant as a smear against the TR. Such behavior is not worthy of a Christian.

    Liked by 1 person

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