Bible Preservation - Early Corruptions

  1. BEFORE THE COMPLETION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
    1. Corrupting the Word (2 Corinthians 2:17)
    2. Handling the Word Deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2)
    3. Counterfeiting Paul’s Letters (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
    4. Wresting the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16)
    5. Leavening Sound Doctrine (Galatians 5:7-9)
    6. Resisting the Truth (2 Timothy 3:7-8)
    7. Denying Sound Doctrine (Titus 1:9-11)
    8. Deceiving with Drafty Doctrine (Ephesians 4:14)
    9. Preaching Another Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9)
    10. Turning Unto Fables (2 Timothy 4:4)
  2. IMMEDIATELY AFTER COMPLETION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
    1. “It is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound, that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it was composed; that Irenaeus and the African Fathers and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syriac church used far inferior manuscripts to those employed by Stunica, or Erasmus, or Stephen, thirteen centuries after, when molding the Textus Receptus…” Introduction to the New Testament by F.H.A. Scrivener who worked on the committee of the Revised Version of 1881.
    2. “The overwhelming majority of readings were created before the year 200.” “The Origin of Texttypes” in Early Christian Origins by Earnest Colwell (1961)
  3. ORIGEN’S HEXAPLA
    1. Origen – the Man (185-254)
      1. Head of the school in Alexandria, Egypt
      2. Considered one of the two most brilliant theologians of early Christianity with the other being Augustine.  Both of them had major faults in their theology.
      3. An extreme ascetic who had only one coat, no shoes, slept on the floor and castrated himself in supposed obedience to Matthew 19:12
      4. Adapted the allegorical method of interpretation to the New Testament Scriptures; was also influenced by Neo-Platonism and Gnosticism
      5. Called the first Bible Critic; He removed “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” from Matthew 19:19 because he did not agree with it.  He claimed that it had been added by some tasteless scribe without any evidence whatsoever.
    2. Origen’s Doctrines
      1. Taught that Christ was eternal begotten of the Father.  By this he meant that the Son, though eternal, proceeded from the Father (in effect, was created by Him) and therefore was eternally inferior to and subject to Him.
      2. Taught that the Holy Ghost was the first being created by the Son.
      3. Taught that all beings, including the devil, would eventually be saved.
      4. Taught that unbaptized infants would go to hell.
      5. Taught that the Genesis account of creation and Adam and Eve was not literally true.
      6. Denied the resurrection of the material body
    3. Origen’s Hexapla
      1. (Hexapla: Greek for “sixfold books) Six versions of the Old Testament placed in six vertical columns completed about 245AD. Took 20 years to complete and consisted of about 7,000 pages. Only small portions of the work survive.
      2. The first column was the Hebrew text
      3. The second column was a transliteration of the Greek text
      4. The third, fourth and sixth columns were Greek translations by Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion.
      5. The fifth column was identified as the Septuagint but was probably Origen’s own translation.  It contained the Apocrypha as part of the Old Testament and was later incorporated into Constantine’s ecumenical Bible.  Origen’s textual work had tremendous effect on early corruptions of the Bible.
  4. CONSTANTINE’S ECUMENICAL BIBLE
    1. Eusebius of Caesarea (260-340)
      1. A student of Origen’s teachings through Pamphilus, who was building a library centered around Origen’s works in Caesarea.
      2. Known as the first church historian because of his book, Ecclesiastical History
      3. Combined literal and allegorical interpretation of the Bible
      4. Supported the Arian doctrine (denying the deity of Christ) at the Council of Nicea (325) but later accepted the compromise teaching
      5. Closely associated with Emperor Constantine for a number of years
    2. Constantine the Great (c.274-337)
      1. A very strong ruler who reunited the Roman Empire when it seemed to be splintering rapidly.
      2. The first emperor to claim to be a Christian
      3. His “conversion” involved seeing a cross with the inscription, “In this sign conquer”, before a crucial battle for the city of Rome—which he won (312)
      4. He established Christianity as the state religion giving money to its churches and privileges to its members and clergy
      5. He used the Roman army to persecute the Donatists in North Africa in 317 because they would not accept the doctrines and authority of the “catholic” church
      6. In 325, Constantine called together the council of Nicea in order to settle a theological dispute concerning the deity of Christ.  He presided over this council which exiled Arius and several others for heresy.
      7. In 331, he gave orders for Eusebius to prepare 50 copies of an edited Bible for use in the churches
  5. VATICANNUS AND SINAITICUS
    1. Introductory Remarks
      1. These two Greek manuscripts are the major basis for the changes which have been made in recent translations of the New Testament
      2. Several authorities believe that these two manuscripts are the only existing copies of the 50 made by Eusebius for Constantine
      3. They are usually dated by scholars as being between copied between the years 325 and 350
      4. They are both written on expensive vellum with uncial (capital) letters
    2. The Vatican Manuscript
      1. Called the Vaticannus or B manuscript
      2. Discovered in the Vatican Library in Rome in 1481
      3. A large portion of Hebrews, all of the Pastoral Epistles and all of Revelation are missing
      4. “Universally esteemed to be the oldest and best MS of the Gr. NT” according to International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (p.2952)
      5. The manuscript given the greatest weight for the Westcott and Hort Greek Text which was the basis for the English Revised Version of 1881.  The Revised Version, in turn, became the basis for almost all succeeding English translations.
      6. Its readings were available to the King James translators in 1611 and had been consulted by Erasmus in 1515.  However, these men rejected the readings because of their obvious spurious nature.
    3. The Sinaitic Manuscript
      1. Called the Sinaiticus or Aleph manuscript
      2. The only uncial containing the entire New Testament
      3. It also contained the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas
      4. It was discovered in 1844 by Constintin Tischendorf at the Greek Orthodox St. Catherine’s Monastery at the base of the traditional Mt. Sinai in a stack of papers laid aside for burning
      5. It uses section numbers attributed to Eusebius
      6. It was used by Westcott and Hort in the places where the Vaticannus did not have the text
  6. JEROME’S LATIN VULGATE
    1. Jerome (347-420)
      1. Educated in Rome
      2. Lived as a hermit for several years
      3. Became secretary to Pope Damasus (382-385)
      4. Was spiritual advisor to a number of Roman ladies, including St. Paula, who financed a monastery for him in Bethlehem
      5. A great admirer and student of Origen
      6. Defended the perpetual virginity of Mary, clerical celibacy and monasticism
      7. Spent the last 34 years of his life in Bethlehem.
    2. Pope Dasmasus (c.304-384)
      1. Became bishop of Rome after the bloody election riots of 366
      2. Convinced Emperor Gratian to give him the title of Pontifex Maximus, the ancient pagan title of chief priesthood which Julius Caesar had taken for himself and had been passed from emperor to emperor until it was given to Damasus and became a papal title
      3. Comissioned Jerome to prepare an “authoritative” Latin translation of the Bible in 382
    3. Jerome’s Translation
      1. Jerome used Origen’s Hexapla for his Old Testament and “corrected” the existing Latin translations to come up with his Latin Vulgate
      2. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate was declared the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church in 1546 at the Council of Trent
      3. The Rheims-Douay Bible was the Roman Catholic English translation of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.  The New Testament was published in 1582; the Old Testament in 1610.
      4. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate generally agrees with the Westcott and Hort Text.  The instances where it disagrees with Westcott and Hort and is correct are places where Jerome stayed with the ancient readings of the Old Latin Vulgate.
      5. So, by the year 400, the ancient perversions of scripture were already established and only waited to be rediscovered in modern times
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 3:30

Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.