Even Our Opponents Agree: The TR was the Standard Sacred Text of the Church

Kurt Aland

In my perusal of the internet for all things TR/KJV I came across this article by Kent Brandenburg entitled, Another Quixotic Whiff from Mark Ward on the Bible and Its Preservation.

The article is a good one and I would consider Brandenburg to be very much in the Traditional Text/Confessional Text camp as touching Scripture after reading several of his articles. Concerning the article mentioned above, Brandenburg quotes from Kurt and Barbara Aland regarding their understanding of the Church’s relationship to the TR before the rise of the Critical Text.

Undoubtedly some if not all of the following material is familiar to our readership, but it bears repeating. Kurt writes of the Textus Receptus,

[I]t is undisputed that from the 16th to the 18th century orthodoxy’s doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed this Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the ‘original text.’

Kurt Aland, “The Text of the Church?” in Trinity Journal (Fall, 1987), 131.

In another place he makes a nearly identical observation when he writes,

We can appreciate better the struggle for freedom from the dominance of the Textus Receptus when we remember that in this period it was regarded even to the last detail the inspired and infallible word of God himself.

Kurt Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 11.

Kurt’s wife, Barbara, continues in this vein. She writes,

[T]he Textus Receptus remained the basic text and its authority was regarded as canonical. . . . Every theologian of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (and not just the exegetical scholars) worked from an edition of the Greek text of the New Testament which was regarded as the “revealed text.” This idea of verbal inspiration (i.e., of the literal and inerrant inspiration of the text) which the orthodoxy of both Protestant traditions maintained so vigorously, was applied to the Textus Receptus.

Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 6-7.

I rehearse these quotations for one simply reason, the Church had a received text, a standard sacred text. We have been trumpeting that from the housetops for a while now. Our opponents above have admitted and freely so that the Church had a received text of Scripture which she regarded as the inspired infallible original.

We, those who hold to Confessional Bibliology and a standard sacred text, are not the schismatics (αἱρετικός hairetikos). We are simply holding to the text which our Reformation-era forefathers held to as the inspired infallible original words of God.

Our modern opponents on the other hand approve and applaud the factious proliferation of versions in the Church. They pretend to create standard versions like the Christian Standard Version and the English Standard Version, but in the end they give us no received text in the Greek or English which they themselves regard as the inspired infallible original.

And for what? They admit that a vast majority of the modern versions are sufficiently reliable. It stands to reason then that one of those modern versions would be sufficient, but no, for them there must be many and there must be doubt as to whether the text we have is the inspired infallible original.

We believe our Greek NT in the TR to be the inspired infallible original. The Critical Text folks believe their text to be sufficiently reliable. Which position do you believe is defensible from the teaching of Scripture? Which position do you believe is more consistent with historic orthodoxy?

It is not the TR/KJV side that has divided the Church. It is the Critical Text/Multiple Version Only side which has broken away and for no robust exegetical or theological reason at all. They are the schismatics. They are the ones dividing the Church into factions. Properly speaking, they are the αἱρετικός (heretics).

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Stop dividing the Church through your constant issuing of new versions of the words of God every year. Stop explicitly and implicitly casting doubt on God’s words by claiming we are 95% sure or the words of God are in the text or apparatus. Instead, embrace one of your many Greek editions as the inspired infallible original words of God. Then embrace one of your many English editions as the derivatively inspired and therefore infallible word of God in English.

Why not? What in the Scripture prohibits you from such a belief?

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