Revelation 22:19 BOOK of Life or TREE of Life?
"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the BOOK of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
The Greek texts of Erasmus, Stephanus 1550, Beza 1598, Elziever 1624, Scrivener 1894 and the Modern Greek Bible read:
και εαν τις αφαιρη απο των λογων βιβλου της προφητειας ταυτης αφαιρησει ο θεος το μερος αυτου απο βιβλου της ζωης και εκ της πολεως της αγιας και των γεγραμμενων εν βιβλιω τουτω = God shall take away his part from the BOOK of life
Brother Steven Avery's research on this verse has shown that church writer references that support the reading "book of life" are:
Ambrose (c 390 AD)
Bachiarius (c 420)
Andreas of Cappadocia (c 500)
Primasius of Adrumentum (552 AD) - Commentary on Revelation
Speculum treatise (mss c. 8th century, many consider as Augustine 427 AD origin)
Haymo of Halberstadt (9th century) - Commentary on Revelation
Among the ancient Bible versions that also support "book of life" are the following:
Old Latin line
Latin Vulgate (some read "book" and others have "tree") auferet Deus partem ejus de libro vitæ, et de civitate sancta,
Codex Fuldensis (~ A.D. 545)
Codex Karolinus (9th century);
Codex Ulmensis (9th century);
Codex Uallicellanus (9th century);
corrector of Codex Parisinus (9th century)
Codex Oxoniensis (12th to 13th century)
Codex Sarisburiensis (thirteenth century)
Andreas of Caesarea (Greek: Ἀνδρέας Καισαρείας; 563 – 637)
was a Greek theological writer and bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia... His principal work is a commentary on the Book of Revelation (Patrologia Graeca vol. 106, cols. 215–458 and 1387–94) and is the oldest Greek patristic commentary on that book of the Bible... his commentary was preserved in nearly 100 complete Greek manuscripts, as well in translation in numerous Armenian and Slavic manuscripts. Andrew's most important contribution was that he preserved many existing Eastern traditions associated with Revelation, both oral and written. His commentary was so influential that it preserved a specific text type for Revelation, known as the Andreas type.
Primasius of Hadrumetum (died around 560 A.D.)
"he was called with other bishops to Constantinople and took part in the Three Chapters Controversy.... While at Constantinople, Primasius studied the exegesis of the Greeks, and his fame is chiefly due to his commentary on Revelation."
Rather than saying "BOOK of life", versions like the RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman Christian Standard, Jehovah Witness New World Translation, and the more modern Catholic versions read: "God will take away his share in the TREE of life."
The first thing you need to realize when someone tries to convince you that the King James Bible is in error for reading "the BOOK of life" in Revelation 22:19 is that they are rejecting the text of all Reformation Bibles in all languages and are trying to get you to become an unbeliever in the infallibility of ANY Bible.
They are also trying to get you to embrace one of the modern "Vatican Versions" like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET or Holman Standard, which NOBODY seriously believes is the complete and 100% true words of God. This is a fact.
See Undeniable Proof the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard, NET etc. are the new "Vatican Versions"
Here is the story that is usually told concerning the reading of "BOOK of life" as opposed to "tree of life" - AG Green said, "Erasmus borrowed the manuscript on Revelation from his friend Johann Reuchlin, a German scholar of Greek and Hebrew. It was the only manuscript of the Book of Revelation used by Erasmus for his first edition of the Novum Testamentum. The identification of the mss. is Minuscule 2814 in the Gregory-Aland numbering. It was previously labeled as 1rK . It is dated to the 12th century. The text is written on a parchment in minuscule, in 1 column per page, 20 lines per page. The codex contains the Book of Revelation with a commentary by Andreas of Caesarea. Last six verses of Minuscule 2814 are lost (Rev. 22:16-21). Erasmus translated the missing last six verses from the Latin Vulgate back to Greek for his editions. The result of the readings from Minuscule 2814 and Erasmus’ translation became a basis for the Textus Receptus. Minuscule 2814 is presently located at the library of University of Augsburg, Germany."
First of all, Erasmus had much more to work with than just 6 or 7 Greek manuscripts. He spent years traveling all over Europe scouring the libraries and taking copious notes from a multitude of manuscripts. If Erasmus used the readings he found in the last few verses of a particular Latin Vulgate, it was probably because he knew they represented what he had seen in the numerous Greek texts he had been seeing for years previously.
See this article about the man Erasmus and the times he lived in. Notice particularly the last half of the article where they address the charge that Erasmus "had only a handful of Greek manuscripts to make up his Textus Receptus".
Secondly, the King James Bible translators did not even primarily rely on the Greek text of Erasmus, but rather that of Beza 1598 and Stephanus 1550, both of whom used many more Greek manuscripts in compiling their Greek editions.
Stephanus mentions some 16 Greek manuscripts that he used in making up his Greek text, yet as far as we know, none of these have survived unto this day. Beza also had different Greek manuscripts at his disposal, but we do not know what they were.
NO Catholic bible has ever used the Textus Receptus as the basis of their New Testament translations, but ALL Reformation Bibles in numerous languages did and the Reformation Bibles in all languages read "BOOK of life" and not "tree of life".
The Catholics first used the various Latin Vulgate editions for their translations and today they use the same UBS (United Bible Society) Nestle-Aland critical Greek texts that are used in making up the modern Vatican Versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET and Holman Standard "Evangelical" versions.
Let me briefly illustrate the complexity and inconsistency of the modern versions and the so called "science" of textual criticism by looking at just one verse in Revelation 2:20 and comparing the KJV, NASB, ESV and NIV.
The same types of differences and changes can be shown hundreds of times over, but it is a very tedious and time consuming work. Remember, James White and others like him are often criticizing a single word found in the King James Bible.
In the King James Bible (and many others as well) we read: Revelation 2:20 - "Notwithstanding I have A FEW THINGS against thee (κατὰ σοῦ ὀλίγα) because thou SUFFEREST THAT woman JEZEBEL, which calleth herself a PROPHETESS, TO TEACH AND TO SEDUCE my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
ESV - "But I have THIS against you, that you TOLERATE that woman JEZEBEL, who calls herself a PROPHETESS AND IS TEACHING AND SEDUCING my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols."
The Traditional Greek texts read "A FEW THINGS against thee" = κατὰ σοῦ ὀλίγα, but Sinaiticus actually says "MUCH against thee (you singular) and in the Greek looks like this - κατὰ σοῦ πολὺ. But not even the modern versions followed the Sinaitic manuscript here, though they DO follow it and reject the Traditional Text in many other places.
Other Greek texts read "MANY THINGS against thee" = κατὰ σοῦ πολλὰ, but nobody followed this reading. So far we have three different Greek readings - 1. "a few things"; 2. "much" and 3. "many things". So what did the versions like the ESV, NIV and NASB do? They put a word in there that is NOT found in ANY Greek manuscript and say "But I have THIS against you".
Secondly the verb "sufferest" in the text that underlies the King James Bible is ἐᾷς, which is a normal word for "to suffer, to allow, to permit." But there are at least THREE other verb forms found in other texts that differ from each other in how they are spelled and the one chosen by the UBS/Nestle-Aland critical texts is an entirely different Greek word than the one that underlies the KJB. It is the word ἀφεῖς, which itself is AN IRREGULAR FORM of aphieemi, but it means about the same thing. But other Greek manuscripts have another Greek word spelled ἀφηῖς and then there is the Sinaiticus correction ἀφηκας.
Thirdly when we get to the phrase "THAT woman JEZEBEL" we find that MOST Greek texts actually read "YOUR woman Jezebel" = γυναῖκα σου, but nobody followed the Majority reading here! And there are THREE different ways the name Jezebel is spelled among the manuscripts. A and C spell it one way - Ἰεζάβελ, and Sinaiticus spells it another way - Ἰαζάβελ, and then we have the third way - Ἰεζάβηλ.
Fourthly when we get to the Greek word for "PROPHETESS" it is a singular Feminine noun, which is what we would expect. It is NOT the Masculine form "prophet". The KJB, ESV, NASB and the NIV 1973, 1978 and 1984 editions all correctly have the word "prophetess". However the NIV 2011 edition now reads "who calls herself A PROPHET."
And fifthly, other TEXTUAL differences among the various Greek manuscripts in just this ONE verse are TWO different ways of spelling the word for "nevertheless" (ἀλλὰ and ἀλλ). There are THREE different ways of spelling or saying "which CALLS herself a prophetess" - 1. ἡ λέγει; 2. ἡ λέγουσα and 3. τὴν λέγουσαν, and there are at least TWO very different ways of saying either the infinitive "TO teach and TO seduce" (KJB) - διδάσκειν καὶ πλανᾶσθαι versus conjugated verbs "TEACHES and SEDUCES" (NASB, ESV) which the NIV paraphrases and adds words to - "BY HER TEACHING she misleads" (NIV)
These are the types of very real textual differences that exist for almost every verse found in the Greek New Testament and especially in the book of Revelation, which has more textual variants than any other New Testament book.
The King James Bible believer maintains that only God knows for sure which readings are His inspired words and only God can guide a group of men to the correct texts and the right meanings of those texts. We believe He has done this in making up His masterpiece, the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
On the other hand, the Bible agnostics (they don't know for sure) and unbelievers in the infallibility of ANY Bible in ANY language do not believe God has done this and they are still working on it themselves.It should also be noted that there are several textual differences found in just the last few verses of Revelation, and that not even the modern versions agree among themselves.
For instance, in verses 20 and 21, the King James Bible as well as the Majority of all texts reads: "EVEN SO, come, Lord Jesus." The earlier Catholic translations like the Douay-Rheims of 1582 and the Douay 1950 included the word "even so" (or Amen) but the more modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph NAB and New Jerusalem omit it. Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus omit the word for "even so" (Amen), and so do the NASB, NIV, ESV, NET and Holman Standard.
Again, in verse 21 in the KJB we read: "The grace of our Lord Jesus CHRIST be with YOU ALL. AMEN."
Here the word CHRIST is found in the Majority of all texts, but again Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus omit it, and so do the NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman Standard and the modern Catholic versions like St. Joseph NAB and New Jerusalem.
The previous Douay Rheims Bible of 1582 read just like the King James Bible and the Traditional texts with: "The grace of our Lord Jesus CHRIST be with YOU ALL. Amen." and so does the latest Catholic Public Domain Version of 2009.
Here is how the older Douay-Rheims of 1582 read in these verses -""
Then in the very last part of the last verse of Revelation, where the KJB says: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with YOU ALL, AMEN", here Sinaiticus is different from all other texts, reading "with THE SAINTS". The Revised Version, the American Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version all read "with the SAINTS" (following Sinaiticus) while the NIV paraphrases the Sinaiticus reading as "with GOD'S PEOPLE".
The Catholic versions are in total disarray as usual. The older Douay-Rheims and even the newer St. Joseph and New Jerusalem read "with YOU ALL. AMEN.", but the Douay had "with ALL. Amen." But now the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version has come out and it has gone back to " The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
However the NASB 1995 and the new 2001 ESV (English Standard Version) now reject Sinaiticus and go with Alexandrinus instead, which says: "with ALL" and omits the word "you". But wait. The even newer ISV 2014 (International Standard Version), and the 2009 Holman Christian Standard have once again gone back to the Sinaiticus reading of "with the saints".
The modern "Evangelical" versions don't even agree among themselves.
It is more than a tad hypocritical of Bible correctors to criticize the King James reading "book of life", when the two other variant readings adopted by the conflicting modern versions of "with all" and "with the saints" are found in ONLY ONE manuscript each and, according to the UBS textual apparatus, not in any other ancient version or quoted by any church father.
Regarding the final word AMEN, manuscript Alexandrinus omits this word, but it is found in the Majority of all texts as well as Sinaiticus, but this time the NASB, ESV chose to reject the Alexandrinus manuscript they had just followed, and went back to the Sinaiticus they had previously rejected and now include the word AMEN!
But Daniel Wallace's NET version 2006 omits the word AMEN.
Do the modern versions always follow the Majority reading? Not at all. In fact they reject the Majority readings literally thousands of times. Do they always follow Sinaiticus? No, not at all. They continually pick and choose among the various readings; do not always agree with each other, and their own printed Greek texts found in Nestle-Aland or the United Bible Society editions are constantly changing every few years.
I have written a series of examples of the so called "Science" of Textual Criticism, showing that it is more along the lines of Hocus Pocus than a genuine science. Be sure to see all sections for a real eye opener into the real nature of this bizarre, ever changing, pseudo-science the scholars love so much.
Many anti-King James Bible critics bring up "the book of life" as found in Revelation 22:19 as an error. One well known such critic is Doug Kutilek.
I have included only extracts from his main arguments, but I am by no means misrepresenting his views. Men like Mr. Kutilek have no inspired, complete, inerrant Bible and they often resort to personal opinion presented as fact, and outright falsehood as though it were irrefutable evidence. Let's read some of what he has to say and then we will respond to his criticisms.
In Mr. Kutilek's article he says there are "a number of unique readings in Erasmus' texts, that is, readings which are found in no known Greek manuscript but which are nevertheless found in the editions of Erasmus. One of these is the reading "book of life" in Revelation 22:19. All known Greek manuscripts here read "tree of life" instead of "book of life" as in the textus receptus. Where did the reading "book of life" come from? When Erasmus was compiling his text, he had access to only one manuscript of Revelation, and it lacked the last six verses, so he took the Latin Vulgate and back-translated from Latin to Greek. Unfortunately, the copy of the Vulgate he used read "book of life," unlike any Greek manuscript of the passage, and so Erasmus introduced a "unique" Greek reading into his text."
First of all, Mr. Kutilek refers to Erasmus' Greek text as though that is all the King James Bible translators had to go by. The truth of the matter is that they didn't even primarily use Erasmus' text but that of Beza and Stephanus, plus they consulted several foreign language translations as well. The most important point is that it was God Himself whom we believe was guiding the KJB translators in their work.
Secondly, Mr. Kutilek says there are no Greek manuscripts that read "book of life". He is flat out wrong about this. Dr. Thomas Holland, Jack Moorman, Dr. H.C. Hoskier and many others have documented the textual evidence that exists for the reading of "book of life" as found in Revelation 22:19.
Dr. Holland responds to this charge. You can see an excerpt from his book Crowned with Glory here:
There this question is posed and Dr. Holland responds:
Question: "If the Textus Receptus is the error free text, then why are the last six verses of Revelation absent from the TR, yet present in the KJV? Did you know that for these verses, the Latin Vulgate was translated into English - a translation of a translation?
Dr. Holland replies: "The "TR" has the last six verses of Revelation in it. It is found in the editions of Erasmus, Beza, Stephanus, and the Elzevir brothers - "ο θεος το μερος αυτου απο βιβλου της ζωης"
Codex 1r, which was used by Erasmus, was missing Revelation 22:16-21. The standard teaching is that Erasmus went back to the Latin Vulgate for these verses and re-translated them into Greek. However, Dr. H. C. Hoskier disagreed by demonstrating that Erasmus used the Greek manuscript 141 (also labeled as 2049) which contained the verses. Manuscript 2049 contains the reading found in the Textus Receptus including the textual variant of Revelation 22:19. To this we can also add the Greek manuscript evidence of 296, and the margin of 2067. Likewise, there is textual evidence for the reading book of life instead of tree of life. As noted above, the reading is found in a few Greek manuscripts. It is the main reading among the Latin witnesses. The phrase book of life is also the reading of the Old Bohairic version. Finally, it is the reading found in the writings of Ambrose (397 AD), Bachiarius (late fourth century), Primasius (552 AD) and Haymo (841 A.D.). (Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse, London: Quaritch, 1929, vol. 1, pp. 474-77, vol. 2, pp. 454,635.)
Even if the "No Bible is inerrant" crowd criticizes these two or three Greek manuscripts as being either copies of existent Greek texts or of little value, the fact is their own UBS/Nestle-Aland Critical texts (that are constantly changing) sometimes adopt the reading of a single word based on far, far less evidence than we have for the reading of "the book of life" in the Reformation bibles like the King James Bible.
See for example the Nestle-Aland critical text's textual change made in the 28th edition regarding 2 Peter 3:10
Another problem with this theory that Erasmus went back to the Latin Vulgate, is the fact that there were two different the Latin Vulgates; there was Jerome's version of the Latin Vulgate and another one that was done around 425 A.D. One of the Latin Vulgates (Jerome's) reads "BOOK of life" and the other one of 425 A.D. reads "TREE of life". So we can just as easily turn the tables around and say that "TREE of life" was taken from the Latin Vulgate!
Here is what the Latin Vulgate of 425 A.D. looks like in Revelation 22:19 - "et si quis deminuerit de verbis libri prophetiae huius auferet Deus partem eius de ligno vitae et de civitate sancta et de his quae scripta sunt in libro isto." You can see this Latin Vulgate here.
And here is a Latin Vulgate site that shows "the BOOK of life" auferet Deus partem ejus de libro vitæ, et de civitate sancta
Regardless, the textual support for these verses is not limited to Jerome's Latin Vulgate of 382. They are also found in some Old Latin manuscripts, additional early translations such as the Coptic and early Latin translations and some later Greek manuscripts.
Regarding the Greek, it should be pointed out that even today there is not a great deal of textual support for the verses in question. For example, of the early papyri there are no manuscripts of Revelation 22, or for that matter of Revelation chapters 18-22.
Further, among the uncials, only five have Revelation chapter 22, and only four of these contain the last six verses (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, 046, and 051). There are several minuscules which have been discovered which contain these verses (94, 1611, 1854, 1859, 2042, and 2138 to name a few).
Of course, the biggest "change" comes in verse 19. Dr. Hoskier has shown that Greek manuscripts 57 and 141 read with the Latin in stating "book of life" and not "tree of life" as found in Sinaiticus and most other Greek mss. There are, of course, other witnesses to the reading found in the KJV here.
For example, the Old Bohairic Coptic version also reads "book of life." Additionally, we have patristic citations from Ambrose (340-397 AD), Bachiarius (late fourth century), and Primasius in his commentary on Revelation in 552 AD. Thus, we have evidence of the KJV reading dating from before the Vulgate and maintained throughout Church history in a variety of geographical locations and various languages."
Dr. Thomas Holland
Mr. Jack Moorman, in his book "When the KJV Departs from the 'Majority' Text", says the reading of "book of life" is also found in the Coptic Boharic, the Arabic, the Speculum, Pseudo-Agustine and written as such in the Latin of Adrumentum 552, Andreas of Cappadocia, 614 Haaymo, Halberstadt, Latin 841. "Book of life" is found in the Greek manuscripts of # 296, 2049, and in the margin of 2067.
Libro (book) is the reading of the Latin mss. Codex Fuldensis (sixth century); Codex Karolinus (ninth century); Codex Oxoniensis (twelfth to thirteenth century); Codex Ulmensis (ninth century); Codex Uallicellanus (ninth century); Codex Sarisburiensis (thirteenth century); and the corrector of Codex Parisinus (ninth century)."
Andreas of Caesarea in Cappadocia (5th or 6th century) was a Greek theological writer and bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. His principal work is a commentary on the Book of Revelation (Patrologia Graeca CVI, 215-458, 1387-94). It is the oldest surviving commentary on that book of the Bible, and a primary source, from which most of its later commentators have drawn. Andreas stands out from the majority of Byzantine commentators by his extensive acquaintance with early patristic literature.
We do have an Andreas reference given in Horae Apocalypticae, by Edward Bishop Elliott. Vol.4 (1852)
In his concluding summary Andreas states very distinctly his view of the Apocalypse being a prophecy of the things that were to happen from Christ’s first coming even to the consummation. In the section of Revelation 22:18-19 Andreas comments on the sin of adding to, or taking from divine Scripture, and he understands the passage as referring not only to the book of Apocalypse but to the whole revealed counsel of God.
Notice how he quotes Revelation 22:18-19. “ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: (19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part OUT OF THE BOOK OF LIFE (not “tree of life”), and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Mr. Kutilek is very misleading when he says that Erasmus had no Greek texts to consult for the ending of Revelation and so he copied from the Latin Vulgate. It is well documented that Erasmus was exceedingly well acquainted with hundreds of Greek manuscripts from his extensive travels and studies. You can read more about the vast number of manuscripts Erasmus had consulted and collected throughout his life here
In his article Mr. Kutilek also states as fact what is really unfounded conjecture when he says: "The fact that all textus receptus editions of Stephanus, Beza, et al. read with Erasmus shows that their texts were more or less slavish reprints of Erasmus' text and not independently compiled editions, for had they been edited independently of Erasmus, they would surely have followed the Greek manuscripts here and read "tree of life."
This is pure guesswork on his part. Stephanus had access to many Greek manuscripts that Erasmus did not possess, as well as Beza. Earlier writers like Stephanus, Calvin, Beza often make references to the readings of old Greek manuscripts which we no longer possess.
When Mr. Kutilek argues in favor of the Westcott-Hort text being based on "the oldest extant Greek manuscripts, plus the earliest of the versions or translations, as well as the early Christian writers", it seems than many "scholars" of equal learning have come to the exact opposite conclusion.
This is a direct quote from the Preface of the New King James Version by people who have attended the same seminaries and have access to the same information. Here is what they say on page vii: "The manuscript preferences cited in many contemporary translations are due to recent reliance on a relatively few manuscripts discovered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dependence on these manuscripts, especially two, the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts, is due to the greater age of these documents.
However, in spite of their age, some scholars have reason to doubt their faithfulness to the autographs, since they often disagree with one another and show other signs of unreliability.
On the other hand, the great majority of existing manuscripts are in substantial agreement. Even though many are late, and none are earlier than the fifth century, MOST OF THEIR READINGS ARE VERIFIED BY ANCIENT PAPYRI, ANCIENT VERSIONS, AND QUOTATIONS OF THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS. This large body of manuscripts is the source of the Greek text underlying the King James Bible. It is the Greek text used by Greek-speaking churches for many centuries, presently known as the Textus Receptus, or Received Text, of the New Testament."
Even Dr. Hort of the famed Westcott Hort text said: "The fundamental Text of late extant Greek MSS generally is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian or Graeco-Syrian Text of the second half of the 4th century." (Hort, The Factor of Geneology, pg 92)
Furthermore, concerning the church Fathers, John Burgon compiled over 86,000 citations and quotes of the church Fathers and found that not only did the Textus Receptus that underlies the King James Bible exist but it predominated.
The early versions like the Old Latin contain many TR readings not found in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus as does the Syriac Peshitta. And both of these early translations predated Sinaiticus Vaticanus by 150 years.
For my article dealing with the Old Latin version which refutes Doug Kutilek's claims see -
In summary, we see that the reading of "book of life" in Revelation does have some Greek manuscript support, as well as ancient versions and church Fathers.
The Providence of God has seen fit to place the reading "BOOK of life" in most Bibles that have been used throughout history to reach millions for Christ. It was the textual reading found in ALL Reformation Bibles in all languages which had a Bible during this time. These include Wycliffe 1380, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible (Cranmer 1539), Matthew's Bible (John Rogers) 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, and the Geneva Bible 1557-"God shall take away his part out of the Booke of life." and the Beza New Testament 1599.
"BOOK of life" is also found in The Bill Bible 1671, Mace's N.T. 1729, Worsley Version 1770, The Clarke N.T. 1795, the Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, the Living Oracles 1835, The Longman Version 1841, The Hammond N.T. 1845, The Morgan N.T. 1848, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, Young's- "the scroll of life", Webster's 1833, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Kenrick N.T. 1862, The Smith Bible 1876, The Dillard New Testament 1885, the NKJV 1982, the Word of Yah 1993, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, the Interlinear New Testament Greek 1997 by Larry Pierce, Lawrie Translation 1998, The Koster Scriptures 1998 - “ if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part from the Book of Life, and out of the set-apart city, which are written in this Book.", the Last Days Bible 1999 by Ray Johnson, the Heritage Bible 2003, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 by Vince Garcia - “God shall take away his part out of the SCROLL of Life”, the Knox Bible 'You' Version 2009, the Last Days Bible (Ray Johnson) 1999, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth Yes Word 1999 by Theron Miller.
Other English Bibles that read "the BOOK of life" in Revelation 22:19 are Green's 2005 literal version, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, The Tomson N.T. 2002, the Online Interlinear of 2009 by André de Mol, the Evidence Bible 2003, the Knox Bible, Copyright © 2012 Westminster Diocese, Published by Baronius Press also reads "BOOK of life", the Bond Slave Version 2009, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, Conservative Bible 2011 - “God will subtract his portion out of the Book of Life”, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, the 2012 Natural Israelite Bible - "and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Yahweh shall take away his part from the BOOK of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.", the BRG Bible 2012, and the Modern English Version 2014.
"BOOK of life" is also the reading of the 1569 Sagradas Escrituras, Cipriano de Valera 1602, and the Spanish Reina Valera versions from 1602, 1909, 1960 and 1995 used throughout the Spanish speaking world, as well as the 2010 Reina Valera Gomez translation and the 2010 Spanish Jubilee Bible - " Dios quitará su parte del LIBRO de la vida", the French Martin 1744 and the French Ostervald 1996, and the 2006 Ostervald-Frossard - "Et si quelqu'un retranche des paroles du livre de cette prophétie, Dieu retranchera sa part du LIVRE de vie, et de la sainte cité, et des choses qui sont écrites dans ce livre.", the Italian Diodati of 1602, 1649 and the New Italian Diodati 1991 - "LIBRO della vita", the Portugues JOÃO FERREIRA DE ALMEIDA em 1681- "Deus tirará a sua parte do LIVRO da vida", the 2014 Romanian Fidela Bible - "Dumnezeu ii va lua partea din CARTEA vietii" - "the BOOK of life"
and the Modern Greek N.T. "ο Θεος θελει αφαιρεσει το μερος αυτου απο του βιβλιου της ζωης "
You can see this Modern Greek Bible here at http://unbound.biola.edu/
Martin Luther's translation of 1545, using Greek texts before Stephanus' 1550 edition, also reads "book of life" and so does the German Schlachter Bible of 2000 - "Gott wegnehmen seinen Teil vom BUCH des Lebens."
I met a Russian pastor a couple years ago and asked him what his Russian Bible said here. He told me it reads book of life too. I have since confirmed that the Russian Synodal Bible indeed says "book of life" and not "tree of life" - "у того отнимет Бог участие в книге жизни" = "God will take away from participation in the BOOK of life"
Besides all these English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German and Greek bibles, I have been able to confirm that the following Bible versions also read "book of life": The Afrikaans Bible of 1953 - "dan sal God sy deel wegneem uit die BOEK van die lewe", the Albanian, the Basque New Testament (Navarro-Labourdin), the Czech BKR Bible - "odejmeť Bůh díl jeho z knihy života" = "the BOOK of life", the Dutch Staten Vertaling - "En indien iemand afdoet van de woorden des boeks dezer profetie, God zal zijn deel afdoen uit het BOEK des levens", the Hungarian Karoli - " az Isten annak részét eltörli az élet könyvébõl and the Icelandic Bible version, the Tagalog Ang Salita ng Diyos 1998 - "Kung binawasan ng sinuman ang mga salita sa aklat ng pahayag na ito, aalisin ng Diyos ang kaniyang bahagi sa aklat ng buhay." - "God shall take away his part out of the BOOK of life", and the Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013 - “ odejmie też Bóg jego dział z księgi życia i ze świętego miasta, i z rzeczy, które są opisane w tej księdze.” = “the book of life”, the Maori Bible - ka tangohia e te Atua tona wahi i roto i te pukapuka o te ora = the book of life, the Smith & van Dyke's Arabic Bible - وان كان احد يحذف من اقوال كتاب هذه النبوّة يحذف الله نصيبه من سفر الحياة ومن المدينة المقدسة ومن المكتوب في هذا الكتاب, the Finnish Bible 1776 - Jumala ottaa pois hänen osansa elämän kirjasta, the Lithuanian Bible - "Dievas atims jo dalį iš gyvenimo knygos ir šventojo miesto" = the book of life, and the Ukranian New Testament 1871 - "уйме Бог часть його з книги життя, і з города сьвятого" = the book of life.
The Catholic Connection
The Catholic versions and the Latin Vulgates also disagree among themselves with most online copies of the Latin Vulgate and the 1950 Douay, and the Jerusalem Bible all reading "TREE of life", while the older Douay-Rheims of 1582, Jerome's Vulgate and the newer, more modern Clementine Vulgate both read "BOOK of life" and the latest Catholic Public Domain Version (The Sacred Scriptures) of 2009 also has gone back to reading "BOOK of life".
As a side note, the number 7 is highly significant in the book of Revelation and in the texts that underlie the King James Bible, and the phrase "the book of life" is found 7 times. This is the number of divine perfection. In the NIV, ESV, Holman Standard and NASB it is only found 6 times. Six is the number man, who is weak and prone to fail.
Mr. Kutilek closes his article by saying: "Some writers calculate the differences between the two texts at something over 5,000, though in truth a large number of these are so insignificant as to make no difference in the resulting English translation. Without making an actual count, I would estimate the really substantial variations to be only a few hundred at most. What shall we say then? Which text shall we choose as superior? We shall choose neither the Westcott-Hort text nor the textus receptus as our standard text, our text of last appeal... we refuse to be enslaved to the textual criticism opinions of either Erasmus or Westcott and Hort or for that matter any other scholars, whether Nestle, Aland, Metzger, Burgon, Hodges and Farstad, or anyone else. Rather, it is better to evaluate all variants in the text of the Greek New Testament on a reading by reading basis, that is, in those places where there are divergences in the manuscripts and between printed texts, the evidence for and against each reading should be thoroughly and carefully examined and weighed, and the arguments of the various schools of thought considered, and only then a judgment made."
Do you see where Mr. Kutilek is coming from? He is his own Final Authority. He has no inerrant, complete, inspired Bible to give you or recommend. He is like those of old of whom God says in the last verse of the book of Judges: "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges 21:25.
Other Bible Commentators
God shall take away his part out of the BOOK of life; by which is meant eternal election, which is the meaning of the phrase throughout this book, in which whoever are written shall certainly be saved. The worshippers of the beast, or the antichristian party, who are chiefly regarded here, are not written in it, Revelation 13:8 wherefore taking away the part of such, is only taking away that which they seemed to have; see Luke 8:18. "Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have" and the sense is, that such shall be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death, and will be the portion of all that are not written in the book of life, Revelation 20:15. The Alexandrian copy, one of Stephens's, and the Complutensian edition, read, "the tree of life".
Notice that he says "one of Stephen's" reads tree of life. In other words, other manuscripts that Stephens employed contained "the book of life" in Revelation 22:19, and there were at least 16 manuscripts employed by Stephanus.
Albert Barne's Notes on the New Testament also comments on the meaning of Revelation 22:19 and the reading "book of life".
"God shall take away his part out of the BOOK of life. Perhaps there is here an intimation that this would be most likely to be done by those who professed to be Christians, and who supposed that their names were in the book of life. In fact, most of the corruptions of the sacred Scriptures have been attempted by those who have professed some form of Christianity. Infidels have but little interest in attempting such changes, and but little influence to make them received by the church. It is most convenient for them, as it is most agreeable to their feelings, to reject the Bible altogether. When it said here that "God would take away his part out of the BOOK of life," the meaning is not that his name had been written in that book, but that he would take away the part which he might have had, or which he professed to have in that book. Such corruption of the Divine oracles would show that they had no true religion, and would be excluded from heaven. On the phrase "book of life," See Barnes "Revelation 3:5".
Adam Clarke comments on Revelation 22:19 and "book of life" saying:
Verse 19. If any man shall take away - "If any man shall lessen this meaning, curtail the sense, explain away the spirit and design, of these prophecies, God shall take away his part out of the BOOK of life, consider this book to beware of indulging their own conjectures concerning it. I confess that this warning has its own powerful influence upon my mind, and has prevented me from indulging my own conjectures concerning its meaning, or of adopting the conjectures of others. These visions and threatenings are too delicate and awful a subject to trifle with, or even to treat in the most solemn manner, where the meaning is obscure. I must leave these things to time and event, the surest interpreters. No jot or tittle of Christ's word shall fall to the ground; all shall have its fulfilment in due time."
There ultimately is no certain way of knowing what the "originals" really said, because we simply do not have them, and literally thousands of Greek copies have been lost to time and decay. The King James reading of "book of life" in Revelation 22:19 is not without textual support, be that of Greek copies, ancient versions, Latin manuscripts, early church writers or modern English and foreign language versions.
I and many thousands of other Bible believers have come to the conclusion that God meant what He said in His Book about His preserved words.
Isaiah 40:8: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Psalm 12:6-7: "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
Psalm 138:2: "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy Truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
Psalm 100:5: "For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
Psalm 33:11: "The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."
Psalm 119:152, 160: "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. ... Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Isaiah 59:21: "... My Spirit that is upon thee [Isaiah], and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever."
Matthew 5:17-18: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
1 Peter 1:23-25: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
John 10:35: "... the Scripture cannot be broken."
Notes from the Internet -
There is a really good King James Bible site I highly recommend. This man has put together thousands of hours of study and sound scholarship into defending the King James Bible as God’s infallible Book. Here are a few additional thoughts on “book of life” as found in Revelation 22:19 taken from his site. You can see much more the the KJV Today site itself.
Herman Hoskier listed 3 minuscules with "book of life": 57 (296) 16th century; 119 (1075) 14th century; and 141 (2049) 16th century (Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse. 2 vols. (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1929)).
"Book of life" is found in the Vulgate as early as in Codex Fuldensis of the 6th century. The value of Vulgate readings cannot be dismissed. The Vulgate preserves several passages that are found in the Sinaiticus but were later lost in the majority of Byzantine copies: e.g. “raise the dead” (Matthew 10:8), “the Jews” (John 3:25), “Church of God” (Acts 20:28), Doxology (Romans 16:25-27). Moreover, even the NIV, ESV and NASB prefer several Latin Vulgate readings over readings that are preserved in the originally inspired language. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.
However, the NIV in Genesis 4:8 adds the line, "Let us go out to the field" from the Vulgate even though the line does not exist in the Hebrew. The NIV, ESV and NASB in 1 Chronicles 4:13 add "and Meonothai" from the Vulgate despite its nonexistence in the Hebrew. The NIV, ESV and NASB in 2 Chronicles 15:8 add "Azariah the son of" from the Vulgate despite its nonexistence in the Hebrew.
The NIV, ESV and NASB acknowledge that the Vulgate can at times preserve readings that are lost in the originally inspired language text. Please go to the page, Aren't some Textus Receptus readings based on little or no Greek manuscript evidence? for more on this issue.
The reading "book of life" appears to have been common in the Latin stream from early times. The text of Ambrose (4th century) in De Paradiso, Book One, c. 12 reads as the Textus Receptus:
"Nam si Joannes hoc judicavit de suis scriptis: Si quis apposuerit, inquit, ad hoc, adjiciet in illum Deus plagas, quae scriptae sunt in libro isto: et qui dempserit de verbis his prophetiae hujus, delebit Deus partem illius de LIBRO vitae" (Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 14, p. 320)
The text of Primasius of Hadrumetum (6th century) also has "book of life". Commentariorum super Apocalypsim, which drew from the Revelation commentary by Tyconius (4th century), reads:
"Si quis addiderit ad haec, adjiciet Deus super cum plagas scriptas in libro hoc. Et si quis dempserit, adimt Dominus partem ejus de LIBRO vitae, et de civitate sancta, et de his quae scripta in LIBRO hoc." (Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 68, p. 934)
The text of Haymo of Halberstadt (9th century) also has "book of life".
"Et si quis diminuerit de verbis hujus libri prophetiae vel sensum, vel etiam verba contra suam conscientiam, sicut Arius fecit ex Evangelio, ut praedictum est, auferet Deus partem ejus de LIBRO vitae, id est in memoria prescientie Dei non scribetur." (Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 117, p. 1220)
Latin Witnesses of Revelation May Be More Accurate
Did you know?
The Greek Church did not accept the canonicity of the book of Revelation until 397 AD whereas the Latin Church already accepted the canonicity as early as in 150 AD.
There are reasons to believe that Latin witnesses of Revelation could be more accurate than Greek witnesses. The first reason being that the book of Revelation was canonized first by the Latin Church whereas the Greek Church took until 397 AD at the Council of Carthage. While influential Greek fathers in the 4th century such as Chrysostom and Gregory of Nazianzus were still hesitant to canonize Revelation, Christians ministering in the Latin West in the 2nd century - Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian - recognized its canonicity early on.
The Muratorian Canon, the oldest known canon that includes Revelation, is a Latin canon. Codex Vaticanus, a Greek codex, does not even have Revelation. Latin commentaries on Revelation by Victorinus and Tyconius existed by the fourth century, but the earliest known Greek commentary on Revelation is by Andreas of Caesarea in the seventh century.
Thus the reading "book of life" is the reading of Christians who considered Revelation to be inspired from early times. The reading "tree of life" is the reading of Christians who initially did not consider those words to be inspired. Moreover, the Greek text of Revelation was corrupted early and extensively. Proof of this is given on this KJV Today article on Revelation 16:5 [CLICK HERE]. Revelation 22:19 may well be one of these early corruptions that were never corrected in the Greek speaking Church.
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Additional Notes - Minority readings
We have only a very small portion remaining of all the Bibles and manuscripts that ever existed. Perhaps as little as one one hundredth, so there is no sure way of knowing what the other manuscripts and Bibles said - just as we do not have the "originals" and can't prove what they said.
Of those that remain, no two are exactly alike in every detail, but of the approximately 5,000 portions and fragments that we have today, about 95% agree about 99% of the time with the King James Bible readings. The other 5% differs a great deal even among themselves, and it is this 5% that is used in most of today's "bibles".
Even the editors of the UBS Critical Greek text admit that multitudes of Greek manuscripts that once exited are no longer accessible.It is also fallacious and hypocritical to suggest that just because a particular reading is not "in the majority of texts" that it therefore cannot be legitimate, when the very men who are behind the ever-changing modern critical text versions admit that the true reading may be found in a few or even one manuscript.
Westcott and Hort, the very men who introduced the Critical Text methods found in the RV, ASV, NASB, NIV, themselves said: "A few documents are not, by reason of their paucity, appreciably less likely to be right than a multitude opposed to them" (Introduction to the Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament, 1881, p. 45)
J. K. Elliott, a modern textual critic comments on transcriptional probabilities: "By using criteria such as the above the critic may reach a conclusion in discussing textual variants and be able to say which variant is the original reading. However, it is legitimate to ask: can a reading be accepted as genuine if it is supported by only one ms.? There is no reason why an original reading should not have been preserved in only one ms. but obviously a reading can be accepted with greater confidence, when it has stronger support."
Even Kurt Aland says: "Theoretically, the original readings can be hidden in a single mss. thus standing alone against the rest of tradition," and Tasker has a similar comment: "The possibility must be left open that in some cases the true reading may have been preserved in only a few witnesses or even in a single relatively late witness." - The Effect of Recent Textual Criticism upon New Testament Studies," The Background of the New Testament and its Eschatology, ed. W. D. Davies and D. Daube (Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 1956)
Consider this statement by Kurt and Barbara Aland: "INNUMERABLE MANUSCRIPTS WERE DESTROYED during the persecutions and had to be replaced. The result was a widespread scarcity of New Testament manuscripts which became all the more acute when the persecution ceased... There also followed a sudden demand for large numbers of New Testament manuscripts in all provinces of the empire" (Aland, The Text of the New Testament, p. 65)
None of the 50 elaborately crafted copies of the Bible Eusebius made for Constantine around 331 A.D. remain. According to Eusebius, Constantine I wrote him in his letter: I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church, to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form, by professional transcribers thoroughly practised in their art.
About accomplishing the Emperor's demand: Such were the emperor's commands, which were followed by the immediate execution of the work itself, which we sent him in magnificent and elaborately bound volumes.
John Calvin also mentions many of their best copies that contained to full reading in 1 John 5:7 in his day, yet these copies are unknown today.
The King James Bible translators as well as Stephanus, Beza and Elziever brothers all had access to Greek manuscripts that no longer exist today. Once a person starts down the road of being a “textual critic” who bases his findings and opinions on the relatively few surviving Greek manuscripts that are extant (exist) today, is basing his work on a massive assumption that certain readings that now have scant textual evidence, did not exist in the past in many others that long ago turned to dust or were deliberately destroyed.
More Notes from the Internet
From In Awe of Thy Word, page 981
William Combs pretends that the last six verses of Revelation” contain “errors in the KJV. He blindly claims, They have no Greek manuscript support whatsoever (William Combs, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, Erasmus and the Textus Receptus, Spring 1996, p. 47). The KJVs book of life is in Greek Manuscripts 051, 296, 2049, 2067 mg, as well as in the ancient Coptic and Arabic Bibles.
Herman Hoskier, the pre-eminent collator of the manuscripts of Revelation, said Erasmus did not take this reading from the Latin, but from Greek Manuscript 2049 or 141. It is also in Andreas manuscripts.
Combs assertions dissolve when one looks in any critical apparatus. (Please check: von Soden, Tischendorfs 8th edition, Nestle-Aland 26th edition, Alford, United Bible Societies, Metzgers Textual Commentary, Hoskier: Revelation, Charles: Revelation.
See Hoskiers Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse. If the reader cannot access the cited critical editions, J. Moormans book, When the KJV Departs from the [false] Majority Text of Hodges-Farstad, contains this and much additional information. It is available from A.V. Publications.
Contrary to Combs footnoted list of KJV errors: • The word ”and” is in Rev. 22:16 in MSS 296 and 2066 and 17 of Hoskiers Greek cursives. •
The second ”and” is also in Rev. 22:17 in Greek MSS 209, 218, 254, 296, 1894, 2049, 2050, 2066, 2075, 2321, as well as in the ancient Syriac, Coptic, Arminian, and Arabic Bibles.
In Rev. 22:18 ”for” is in Greek MS 2066 and 8 of Hoskiers cursives, as well as the ancient Coptic and Ethiopic Bibles.
“And from the things which are written in this book” is in Rev. 22:19 in Greek MS 296, 2049 and the ancient Arabic Bible.
Finally, ”you” is in Rev. 22:21 in Greek manuscript 296, 2050, 2066, and 15 of Hoskiers cursives, as well as in the ancient Ethiopic Bible.