“...there is one common objection to my viewpoint that relates to textual criticism that I do feel I need to clear away”

"...the KJV-Only movement as a whole, and many individuals within it, are not telling the truth, and the leaders at least should know better.... repeatedly I have seen KJV-Only leaders say that 1) all the modern versions use a different textual basis than the KJV. The significant minority who know that the NKJV claims to use the same textual basis as the KJV have repeatedly said 2) that the NKJV actually incorporates a number of readings from the critical text." - Mark Ward

1216 reads

There are 5 Comments

Jim Welch's picture

Thanks Mark for once again speaking the truth in love.  

E. M. Gerber's picture

I've heard this claim repeated so often, never with the intent to be dishonest. Believe it or not, I've even heard some non-KJVO'ers say something similar about the NKJV. (Something to the effect of "but the NKJV doesn't really translate the same text as the KJV, does it?"). I grew up thinking the same. It's just been repeated so often that it has become "common knowledge."

On a side note, I've recently started reading the NKJV, and really love the translation. It's elegant, easy to read, and seems to be a fairly formal rendering of the underlying text. By far the best thing about the translation, however, is exactly what it has been most maligned for: the inclusion of readings from other text families in the margins. As someone who hasn't fully bought in to the TR, MT or critical text, I love being able to see the major differences at a quick glance.


Darrell Post's picture

If it were true that the NKJV included readings that deviated from the textus receptus, then near the top of that list would be Revelation 17:16. There the NKJV would have read, "And the ten horns which you saw and the beast..." Instead, the NKJV reads the same as the KJV based on the textus receptus, "And the ten horns which you saw on the beast..." 

The only reason the KJV and NKJV read on (epi) instead of and (kai) is because the preposition epi is found in the printed TR. Why then does the TR read epi instead of kai? No one really knows. There is absolutely NO witness to the Greek NT (dated before Erasmus' printed text) among all the hand copied manuscripts that read epi. And yes, I personally checked every available manuscript as I was preparing for an article I have yet to publish. 

My survey of cataloged Greek New Testament manuscripts revealed 272 that may include Revelation 17:16. Of these 272, remarkably, only ten were found to not have images available on the internet. Another manuscript, GA2344, could not be deciphered from the blurry image as 17:16 fell on a badly marred page. Then 22 damaged manuscripts known to include the Book of Revelation lacked the page that included 17:16.

Of all these manuscripts, only six read epi and all the rest of them read kai. But what about these six?

Among the six manuscripts reading epi one might expect to find the one Erasmus provided his printer in Basel, Switzerland in 1516 when he undertook to complete the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament. Not so. The manuscript used as the source for Revelation in the TR is GA2814, and it reads kai not epi. Furthermore, all six of the manuscripts reading epi were hand-copied after Erasmus’ popular printed edition entered circulation. These include GA296 (16th century), GA1775 (1847), GA1776 (1791), GA2049 (16th Century), GA2066 (1574), and GA2072 (1798). Scholars who have examined these manuscripts have commented that at least some of them were simply hand-made copies of Erasmus' printed text. But none of them were created prior to the printed text.

But what about other ancient sources? Sometimes there is a reading in early Latin manuscripts that doesn't show up in the Greek until centuries later, but I found no relief for the KJV reading there either as the Latin also supports kai, and not epi

The simple fact is the very FIRST time epi is found anywhere is the printed textus receptus edited by Erasmus and printed in Basel. 

So if there was any likely passage where the NKJV editors would have understandably abandoned the reading of the TR, it would have been Revelation 17:16. But they didn't. They stuck with epi against ALL manuscripts copied prior to Erasmus. They could have made a very easy case for the change to which many KJV Only adherents would have had to give assent.

1) It is not a doctrinally loaded variation.

2) There were absolutely zero witnesses to the reading prior to Erasmus.

3) The very manuscript Erasmus intended to print also read kai. This means the change from epi to kai for the NKJV would have actually aligned more with what Erasmus likely intended, as epi was most likely a mistake involving the worker who set the type for Erasmus.

But the NKJV editors refused to make the change. They stuck with the reading of the KJV, based on the flaw in the textus receptus

Dave White's picture


The single book most responsible for the “King James only”/”Textus Receptus only” view gaining wide acceptance is Which Bible?, edited by the late David Otis Fuller. First appearing in 1970 (a date not without significance), the book was revised and updated several times, the latest edition being the fifth, which runs 318 pages–with indices, 350. (All page references to Which Bible? will be to the fifth edition). The greater part of the book addresses the issues of the Greek texts and English translation, that is, lower criticism, though the second longest article (37 pages) in the book focuses on the subject of destructive higher criticism. This is a completely separate matter which some of the writers in Which Bible?do not seem to recognize.

Besides Fuller, there are eleven other writers represented in this compilation, not all of whom accept Fuller’s views of the KJV and TR. The quality and accuracy of the articles varies widely. Some are excellent and others are exceptionally poor. Most of the articles average a mere dozen or fewer pages in the book; two are as long as thirty to forty. But the  overwhelmingly longest contribution, running to 146 pages (46% of the book), is that of Benjamin G. Wilkinson. This section is in reality a nearly complete reprinting of ten chapters of Wilkinson’s sixteen chapter book, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, published in 1930, and which in its full form ran 259 pages.

Who was Benjamin G. Wilkinson? Fuller prefaced his efforts with a two page introduction headed, “About the author of Our Authorized Bible Vindicated” (pages 174, 175). Only the first paragraph says anything about Wilkinson, and one page merely reproduces Wilkinson’s own foreword. Here is the total of what Fuller told the trusting reader about Wilkinson:

Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Ph.D., is all but unknown to the world of scholarship, but once his book is carefully considered it will be evident that here is a scholar of the first rank with a thorough knowledge of the subjects about which he wrote. Dr. Wilkinson taught for many years in a small and obscure Eastern college. For this excellent work which he produced he secured copyrights in both England and America back in 1930. [Which Bible?, page 174]

Fuller went on to laud Wilkinson’s book:

Dr. Wilkinson’s book is…a cogent presentation of little known facts along with a thrilling review of the battle that began in Eden with Satan’s skeptical question, “Yea, hath God said?” and has continued unabated until this present hour.

With such a surfeit of Bible translations and such profound confusion existing in Christian circles, Dr. Wilkinson’s work will go a long way in bringing into proper focus and perspective the whole question on where final authority lies and just what we can trust with confidence in the midst of this multiplicity of versions. [Which Bible?, page 174].

Fuller was apparently including Wilkinson in his remarks in the “Acknowledgements” (preceding the “Contents” page) when he wrote:

The writers of some of the articles quoted in this book are now with the Lord, having faithfully served Him in their generation as earnest contenders for “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Wilkinson died in 1968; Which Bible? appeared in 1970.

When I (Doug) first read Which Bible? while in Bible College in the early 1970’s, the vague reference to Wilkinson teaching at a “small and obscure Eastern college” sparked my interest. Try as I might, for over fifteen years I could find no information on Wilkinson beyond what Fuller gave. I had no idea what “Eastern college” Fuller referred to. The only reference to Our Authorized Bible Vindicated I could find beyond Which Bible? was a mere listing in the bibliography of H. S. Miller’s General Biblical Introduction, a Bible College textbook. I thought it strange that no one but Fuller was aware of such a man who would be described as “a scholar of the first rank with a thorough knowledge of the subjects about which he wrote” and whose writing could be called, “this excellent book.” My long unanswered questions about Wilkinson and his school were answered in a surprising way.

I (Gary) spoke at the annual meeting of the Dean Burgon Society (of which Fuller was a founding member) in July, 1989, in Grafton, Illinois. While at dinner with the president of the Dean Burgon Society, Dr. D. A. Waite, I asked him if he knew anything about the background of Dr. Benjamin G. Wilkinson. He said in a voice just above a whisper, “He was a  Seventh-day Adventist.” I asked him if Dr. Fuller knew that. Dr. Waite said, “Yes, but he didn’t like to mention it because he knew how people might react.”

With this bit of information in hand, we decided to pursue the subject further. What we discovered surprised even us. We secured a copy of the 1930 edition of Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. From the title page, we learned the name of the “small and obscure Eastern college.” It was Washington Missionary College, a Seventh-day Adventist training school. (This is today Columbia Union College, 7600 Flower Avenue, Tomoka Park, MD 20912). Not only did Wilkinson teach there for many years, the title page identified him as “Dean of Theology!” Therefore, he was head of the theology department of a recognized cult’s training college!

Jim Welch's picture

David and Darrell, you have contributed much to my understanding!  I am deeply grateful.