Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is the King James Bible Just a Translation of the Textus Receptus?

It is true that the KJV is primarily a translation of the textus receptus [TR], but it is not solely just a translation of the TR. The KJV has departed from the TR in a number of places. According to Frederick Scrivener, the KJV has departed from the TR close to one hundred times altogether (see F. H. A. Scrivener, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible: Its Subsequent Reprints and Modern Representatives [Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1884]: 243–7, 262–3). Scrivener suggests that when the translators of the KJV departed from the TR, they often did so under the influence of Tyndale’s English translation, which sometimes followed the Latin Vulgate instead of the TR.

For example:

In Matt 10:25; 12:24, 27, the TR has the name βεελζεβούλ Beelzebul; but the KJV follows Tyndale, translating this as Beelzebub.

In Mark 4:18, the KJV, following Tyndale, departs from the TR by omitting the second οὗτοι εἰσιν these are. The second οὗτοι εἰσιν in the TR introduces a new clause, namely, these are those who have heard the word.

In Acts 26:6, the TR reads τοὺς πατέρας the fathers, whereas the KJV has our fathers. It is likely that the translators followed Tyndale at this point, and that Tyndale in turn followed the Vulgate patres nostros, which means our fathers. All other major manuscript traditions have τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν our fathers, thereby agreeing with the Vulgate.

In 1 Cor 16:23, the KJV has our Lord, whereas the TR, along with all other major manuscript traditions, simply has τοῦ κυρίου the Lord.

In Phil 2:21, the KJV follows Tyndale with the translation of Jesus Christ, whereas the TR, along with all other major manuscript traditions, has Xριστοῦ ’Iησοῦ of Christ Jesus.

In 1 Tim 1:2, the KJV follows Tyndale with the translation Jesus Christ, whereas the TR, along with all other major manuscript traditions, has Xριστοῦ ’Iησοῦ Christ Jesus.

In the first part of Rev 9:19, the KJV reads: For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails, which is quite close to the reading of all of the major manuscript traditions, except for the TR. The TR reads αἱ … ἐξουσίαι … εἰσιν their powers are instead of their power is, and completely omits the wording and in their tails.

All in all, we can say that the KJV is primarily a translation of the TR, but at the same time we should acknowledge that the translators of the KJV felt free to depart from the TR at various points. They did not slavishly restrict themselves to the TR as the sole source for their translation. It is incorrect, therefore, to think that the KJV is just a translation of the TR.

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