Tyndale, the Textus Receptus or the King James Bible?
Revelation 18:13 “SLAVES and souls of men.”
I recently got a letter from a Christian man who claims the Textus Receptus that underlies the King James Bible is his final authority and not the King James Bible itself. He was telling me that this is also the position of the Trinitarian Bible Society, who takes offense at being labeled a “King James Bible only” organization. They say they are not KJB only, but Textus Receptus only.
The Trinitarian Bible Society has publicly stated:”The Trinitarian Bible Society does not believe the Authorised Version to be a perfect translation, only that it is the best available translation in the English language”.
“Indeed, unlike those in the King James Only movement, it is the firm belief of the Society that ‘The supernatural power involved in the process of inspiration, and in the result of inspiration, was exerted only in the original production of the sixty-six Canonical books of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16). Translations from the original languages are likewise to be considered the written Word of God in so far as these translations are accurate as to the form and content of the Original.”
“Translations made since New Testament times must use words chosen by uninspired men to translate God’s words. For this reason no translation of the Word of God can have an absolute or definitive status. The final appeal must always be to the original languages, in the Traditional Hebrew and Greek texts’.” (End of statement by TBS)
The TBS confession sounds nice but is ultimately meaningless. How could they possibly know for sure that “Translations from the original languages are likewise to be considered the written Word of God in so far as these translations are accurate as to the form and content of the Original.”? They don’t have any “the Original” to compare anything to, and they know it.
They then defend what they call the “traditional text” and what they mean by this is the particular variety of Textus Receptus that CAME FROM the King James Bible. Their 1894 Scrivener edition of the TR was a back-translation from the KJB into a Greek N.T. text. The Greek texts of Erasmus, Stephanus and Beza are about 99.9 % the same, but there definitely are some textual differences. Usually the KJB translators went with Beza, but sometimes with either Erasmus or Stephanus. What Mr. Scrivener did was to find the particular Greek readings from these various Greek texts that the King James Bible followed, and he then made up his copy of what is now the Trinitarian Bible Society Greek Textus Receptus. Their TR did not give rise to the KJB but it was the KJB that gave rise to their printed copies of their Textus Receptus!
I believe the position of the Trinitarian Bible Society and of this man is much closer to the truth than the Bible of the Month Club multi-versionists of today who have no settled text and who usually reject or call into question some 40 entire verses from the New Testament text, plus another 1500 - 2000 words from the traditional N.T. text. But I believe their textual position of “TR only” is inconsistent and illogical.
Their position still leaves each of them as their own Final Authority for determining HOW the Bible should be translated and read. Each one is free to translate the meaning of each word and verb tense as he sees fit, and his own translation will differ from that of everybody else.
Here are three specific examples of different bible versions that use the TR readings, but translate specific words in very different ways. It is the King James Bible ENGLISH text that got it right and many other versions did not.
Example #1. Titus 3:10 "heretic" or "a divisive person"?
Example #2. Acts 17:22 "too superstitious" or "very religious"?
Example #3. Matthew 12:40 "a whale" a "big fish" or "a sea monster"?
I believe the TR position is inconsistent in that the particular TR they choose to accept as their “final authority” is actually derived FROM the King James Bible, and not the King James Bible from their particular variety of Textus Receptus. If God led the King James Bible translators to the exact and precise underlying Greek texts to use in making up the greatest masterpiece the world has ever seen, then it is only logically consistent to believe that He also led them to the precise MEANING of these same words in the resultant English translation.
Why would God do the one and leave the other undone? It makes no sense.
The particular “error” this Christian brother brought to my attention is found in Revelation 18:13. Here we read concerning Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, that she had merchandise of: “...sheep, and horses, and chariots, and SLAVES, and souls of men.”
This brother writes telling me that the word translated as “slaves” should actually read “bodies” , and he points out that Tyndale did it this way. His exact words are - “In Rev. 18:13 the Greek word “soma” was translated correctly by Tyndale as “body” whereas the KJV mistranslated it as “slave”. Would you say that the KJV corrects the original Greek in these two instances or is the KJV in error and therefore not perfect?”
However, does this man accept Tyndale’s translation as his Final Written Authority over the King James Bible? Of course not. Tyndale did not always follow the same variety of Textus Receptus that underlies the King James Bible and he certainly did not always translate the Greek texts accurately.
For instance, Tyndale omitted the entire verse of Luke 17:36 - “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left.”. Tyndale also followed the wrong text in Luke 2:22 where it speaks of “the days of HER purification according to the law of Moses.” Tyndale wrongly followed the texts that say “THEIR purification”, which would include the baby Jesus.
Tyndale 1525 as well as most English translations like Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568 and the Geneva Bible 1587, did not translate John 1:3-4 very well.
In the King James Bible and in virtually every Bible translation made since the King James Bible, including the Douay-Rheims of 1582 before it, and the Anglo Saxon Gospels of 1000 A.D. before that, referring to the Word of God, the eternal Son of God, who was God and became flesh and dwelt among us, we read:
John 1:3-4 - “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God. 1:3 All things were made by HIM; and without HIM was not anything made that was made. 1:4 In HIM was life; and the life was the light of men.”
However Tyndale, the Geneva bible, the Great Bible, Matthew's Bible and the Bishops' bible, all read: “John 1:1 In the beginning was that Word, and that Word was with God, and that Word was God.
Joh 1:2 This same was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made by IT, and without IT was made nothing that was made.
Joh 1:4 In IT was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Coverdale 1535 is a little different, but still not right. It reads:
Joh 1:1 In the begynnynge was the worde, and the worde was with God, and God was ye worde.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the begynnynge wt God.
Joh 1:3 All thinges were made by THE SAME, and without THE SAME was made nothinge that was made.
Joh 1:4 In HIM was the life, and the life was the light of men”
Tyndale also followed the wrong text when he omitted the phrase "without a cause" from Matthew 5:22 where Jesus says: "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother WITHOUT A CAUSE shall be in danger of the judgment..." Jesus Himself was angry as we see in Mark 3:5 "And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their heart..." This correct reading has massive textual and ancient version support and is found in the Bishop's Bible, the Geneva Bible, the KJB, NKJV and an host of other Bible versions both in English and foreign languages. You can see a study on this verse here -
Matthew 6:33 KJB - But seek ye first the kingdom OF GOD, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Tyndale - “But rather seke ye fyrst the kyngdome of HEVEN and the rightwisnes therof and all these thynges shalbe ministred vnto you.”
For some strange reason Tyndale did not follow the Textus Receptus here and he omitted the words “OF GOD” and he put “of heaven” instead. There is no text that reads this way, not even Sinaiticus and Vaticanus which omit “of God”.
The words OF GOD (tou theou) in the phrase "the kingdom of God" are found in the Majority of all Greek texts, the Old Latin 150 A.D., which predates by 200 years anything we have in Greek, the Syriac Peshitta 250 A.D., Harkelian, Curetonian, Palestinian, Coptic, Georgian, Armenian, Ethiopian, and Slavonic ancient versions. These all read as does the King James Bible.
Bible versions that correctly read as the King James Bible - "Seek ye first the kingdom OF GOD, and his righteousness" are: the Anglo Saxon Gospels 1000 A.D. - "Eornestlice secheð ærest GODES riche. & hys rihtwysnesse.", Wycliffe 1395 - "Therfor seke ye first the kyngdom of God, and his riytfulnesse", the Great Bible 1540, Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Wesley 1755, Webster's 1833, Living Oracles 1835, Murdock's 1852 and Lamsa's 1933 translations of the Syriac Peshitta, Douay 1950, Hebrew Names Version, the Holman Standard 2003, and the 2002 International Standard Version
Luke 2:33 "Joseph and his mother" vs. "his father and his mother"
Tyndale also followed the wrong texts in Luke 2:33 and 2:43. In the King James Bible we read - "And JOSEPH and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him." and in Luke 2:43 "...and JOSEPH and his mother knew not of it."
But in Tyndale we have - "And HIS FATHER and mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him." and in Luke 2:43 "...unknowing to HIS FATHER and mother." NO text reads this way, not even the Critical text versions which have "his PARENTS did not know of it."
For further study on these two verses see -
Another place where Tyndale gave us a very inaccurate translation is found in 2 Peter 2:5 where we read of God who "spared not the old world, but saved Noah THE EIGHTH person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly." ALL Greek texts say "the eighth" (ogdoon) here. Many modern versions also poorly translate this passage by completely paraphrasing and adding words not found in any Greek text. For instance the ESV, NASB, NIV, RSV, ASV, Holman, Catholic St. Joseph New American Bible, and the New Jerusalem bibles all omit the literal Greek and add words paraphrasing 2 Peter 2:5. ALL Greek texts say "Noah THE EIGHTH person" (Wycliffe, Coverdale, Bishops' bible, the Geneva Bible, NKJV, King James Bible) and change it to "Noah AND SEVEN OTHERS".
Eight is the number of a new beginning. Circumcision was to be done on the eighth day. (Gen. 17:12, Luke 1:59, Phil. 3:5). The new crop was to be sown in the eighth year (Lev. 25:22). We have a seven day week and then the eighth day is a new beginning of the next week and Christ was raised on this day to give us a new beginning, and new life and a new covenant. But Tyndale also did a very poor job of translating this passage. His translation says: "but saved Noah the RIGHT preacher of righteousness, and brought in the flood upon the world of the ungodly". He completely omits the word "the eighth" and instead has the word "right".
Tyndale omitted the entire verse of Mark 11:26 - “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. “
He also omitted the phrase in Mark 15:3 “but he answered nothing.”
Tyndale omitted the words “being convicted by their own conscience” and “even unto the last” in John 8:9.
In John 19:38 Tyndale omitted the words: “He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus” from his text.
In Luke 2:22 the King James Bible correctly states: "And when the days of HER purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord." However Tyndale did not follow the same Greek text the King James Bible would follow and it says "THEIR purification". According to the law of Moses as recorded in Leviticus 12:2-6 it was ONLY the woman who was to be purified. See more here -
Amazingly, Tyndale’s N.T. also omits all these words from James 4:6 - “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
In 1 John 2:23 Tyndale omits the words: - “but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”
Tyndale also followed different Greek textual readings in places like Revelation 16:5 (and shalt be vs and holy); 17:8 (and yet is vs. omit); 1 Peter 5:10 (us vs. you), 1 John 1:4 (your vs. our), and 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (he vs. ye). In Romans 12:11 instead of “fervent in spirit, SERVING THE LORD”, Tyndale followed different Greek texts which read: “fervent in the spirit. APPLY YOURSELVES TO THE TIME.”
In the book of Revelation Tyndale omits the words: “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee” from Revelation 18:23 and the entire verse in Revelation 21:26 which reads: “And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.”!!
Most of Tyndale’s translations were quite good but some were absolutely horrible. For instance instead of “Not a NOVICE lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the DEVIL" (1 Timothy 3:6) Tyndale reads: "not a YOUNG SCHOLAR lest he swell and fall into the judgment of THE EVIL SPEAKER."
In John 21:5 "Then Jesus saith unto them, CHILDREN (paidia) have ye any meat?, in Tyndale was "Jesus said unto them, SIRS, have ye any meat?
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him", but Tyndale read: "that we by his means should be that righteousness WHICH BEFORE GOD IS ALOVED." (What?)
In Galatians 4:24 the KJB has: "Which things ARE AN ALLEGORY; for THESE are the two covenants", whereas Tyndale had "which things BETOKEN MYSTERY. For THESE WOMEN are the two covenants."
In Philippians 3:2 Paul warns of the Judaisers who would put them under the law, saying: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of THE CONCISION." But Tyndale translated this as: "...beware of evil workers. Beware OF DISSENSION."
In Hebrews 2:1 instead of "we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time WE SHOULD LET THEM SLIP", Tyndale has "LEST WE PERISH".
In In Hebrews 6:1 instead of “leaving the principles of the doctrine OF CHRIST”, Tyndale has “the doctrine pertaining to the beginning OF A CHRISTIAN MAN.”
In Hebrew 9:1 instead of "WORLDLY SANCTUARY" Tyndale has "worldly HOLINESS" and in Hebrews 9:10 the “CARNAL ORDINANCES” becomes “JUSTIFYINGS OF THE FLESH”.
In 1 Thes. 4:6 the KJB's "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother IN ANY MATTER", Tyndale had rendered as "that no man go too far and defraud his brother IN BARGAINING."
In James 3:4 “whithersoever the governor listeth” was rendered in Tyndale as “whithersoever THE VIOLENCE of the governor will.”
And in James 5:17 Elias is described as a “man SUBJECT TO LIKE PASSIONS as we are”, but Tyndale rendered this as “Elias was a man MORTAL even as we are.”
In Romans 3:19 we read concerning the condemnation of the law - “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may BECOME GUILTY BEFORE God”, but in Tyndale this is rendered this as: “all mouths may be stopped and all the world BE SUBDUED TO God.”
2 Timothy 2:16 in the KJB reads: "But shun PROFANE and vain babblings." But Tyndale reads: "UNGHOSTLY and vain voices pass over."
And in Revelation 7:14 we read: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and HAVE WASHED their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." But Tyndale translated this as: "...made THEIR GARMENTS LARGE and made them white in the blood of the lamb."
There are numerous examples of very poor translational work in Tyndale’s New Testament; these are just a small sampling.
As the King James Bible translators said: “Truly (good Christian reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one...but to make A GOOD ONE BETTER, or OUT OF MANY GOOD ONES, ONE PRINCIPAL GOOD ONE, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavor, THAT OUR MARK.” Well, praise God, He used them to accomplish just that and we can be thankful for it.
Now, back to word “slaves” in Revelation 18:13. Admittedly, the word “soma” is normally translated as “body” in the KJB and in most other versions too, but it is a well know fact that a single word can have various and sometimes very different meanings in different contexts.
For example, the Hebrew word neh-phesh #5315 is variously translated as “soul, life, body, person, creature, the dead, the mind, heart, beast, yourselves, herself, breath, fish, the will, ghost, and pleasure.”
Greek Lexicons - What do they say?
Though I obviously do not accept Greek lexicons as my final authority, they do often reveal things about the nature and use of both Greek and Hebrew words.
Liddell and Scott, Oxford Press 1968 tells us on page 1749 that the Greek word ‘soma’ can mean various things in different contexts, including “body, dead body, a living body, an animal body, a person, a human being, and “it is used abstractly for SLAVES in Revelation 18:13.”
Thayers Greek lexicon, 1978 on page 611 tells us: “Since according to ancient law in the case of slaves the body was the chief thing taken into account, it is a usage of later Greek to call slaves simply somata (bodies); once so in the N.T. in Rev. 18:13.”
Thayer then goes on to show an example from the Greek text of the LXX where Genesis 36:6 tells us of Esau taking his whole family plus his household servants and cattle and moving to a different place. Here the text says: “And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all THE PERSONS of his house, and his cattle...”. The Greek renders this phrase as “panta TA SOMATA tou oikou autou”.
Likewise the lexicon of Baer, Arndt and Gingrich 1952 tells us on page 807 that the Greek word can legitimately be translated as “slaves” and again lists the example of Gen. 36:6 from the LXX and Josephus from Antiquities 14,321 and Revelation 18:13.
Let’s take a look at how other Bible translators have rendered the word “somaton” in this context here in Revelation 18:13.
Some few go along with the old Tyndale rendering of “BODIES, and souls of men.” Among these are the NKJV, NIV and the Holman Standard which reads “human bodies and souls”.
However, agreeing with the King James Bible’s “SLAVES” are the following bible versions: Wycliffe 1395, the Geneva Bible 1599, the Revised Version 1881, American Standard Version 1901, the RSV 1954, NRSV 1989, the 2001 ESV, the NASB 1963-1995, the Douay 1950, Bible in Basic English 1960, Weymouth, the New Life Version, World English Version, Hebrew Names Bible, the Message, New Century Version, Contemporary English Version, the New International Readers Version, the 1970 New English Bible, the 2005 International Standard Version and Daniel Wallace’s NET version.
Among foreign language versions I know about that read “slaves” (esclavos) are the Spanish Reina Valera 1602, 1909, 1960, 1995, the Italian Diodati, the NIV Spanish edition (Nueva Versión Internacional) 1999, and the Portuguese O Livro and the de Almeida versions.
It should be noted that there is a big difference between a translational CHOICE and a translational ERROR. Other Bible commentators have no problem with the KJB translation of “slaves”. Adam Clarke notes: “The bodies of men; probably distinguished here from , souls of men, to express BONDMEN and freemen.”
Barne’s Notes on the New Testament says: “The word properly denotes body--an animal body--whether of the human body, living or dead, or the body of a beast; and then the external man --the person, the individual. In later usage, it comes to denote A SLAVE, (see Rob. Lex.,) AND IN THIS SENSE IT IS USED HERE. The traffic in slaves was common in ancient times, as it is now.”
The People’s N.T. Commentary says: “The first seems to refer to the traffic in SLAVES, a common traffic until modern times and sanctioned by the Papacy. The latter expression seems to me to refer to a spiritual traffic.”
Robertson’s Word Pictures in the N.T. says: “This use of swma for slave occurs in Genesis 34:29; Tob 10:11 (swmata kai kthnh, slaves and cattle); II Macc. 8:11.”
And John Wesley tersely comments: “And of bodies - A common term for slaves.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong or erroneous with the way the King James Bible translators have rendered this word into English. To correct or criticize anything in the King James Bible is to end up placing your own mind and understanding as the final written authority, and you end up with no complete, inspired and inerrant Bible at all. This is ultimately the position taken by all those who tell us they are “TR men” and not King James Bible onlyist. Every man ends up doing what is right in his own eyes and takes a textual position that contradicts itself. If God chose the KJB translators to give us His pure and complete Greek text, then He logically and consistently also gave them spiritual insight and divine direction on HOW these same texts were to be translated into the English tongue.
I like the thought expressed recently by brother Tom Lamb who wrote: "However, at the end of the day, if we are going to these places just to prove God's word wrong ... then we are a Bible corrector! If we happen to be going to aids just to confirm the word ... then we are a Bible believer! "
The King James Bible is always right.
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Notes from the Internet -
This interchange took place in July of 2012 at our Facebook club called the King James Bible Debate. I was responding to a man who was criticizing several translations in the King James Bible and who finally told us that he does his own translating work and he holds the Greek text of Scrivener as his final authority.
Hi Bob. You finally "sort of" answered the question about what is "the" Hebrew and "the" Greek text you think is inspired. You told us it is Scrivener's Textus Receptus Greek Text. Now, here is where your whole theory totally breaks down. It really isn't a particular text, since as we have seen it is YOUR understanding of HOW to translate certain texts that is your "final authority". You apparently are the only one out there that thinks Genesis 1:2 should be translated as "the earth BECAME without form and void."
Your position that "the" Greek is Scrivener's Textus Receptus Greek Text really falls apart. This text didn't even appear anywhere in print until 1894 and it is a back translation that comes from the King James Bible. You are putting the cart in front of the horse. If God guided the KJB translators to the right Greek text, then He also guided them to the correct way to translate it into the English language. The English text preceded your "the" Greek text by almost 300 years!
What you have done, Bob, is to make yourself your own final authority because it is YOU who determines for yourself how a passage or an individual word should be translated. When you talk or write to others you do not speak or write to them in Hebrew and Greek; you do it in English. So you are still basically making up your own translation as you go and we have already seen that your peculiar and special translation is very different than almost everybody else's. You are your own final authority.
This is the big problem I see with the Textus Receptus guys like you. You have put the cart before the horse. You ignore and dismiss the Providence of God in giving us this specific text in English - the end times universal language - (it certainly is not Greek) and you end up making yourselves the people to whom the average Christian must come to in order to find out what God "really" said.
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 8:8