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Ancient Discovery Confirms Masoretic Text--Skeptics Scramble!

Regularly, GodSaidManSaid is asked about Bible translations. Is there anything more important than a believerís copy of the Holy Bible? It will be obvious in this feature that all Bibles are not the same. There are two Testaments in the Bibleóthe Old and the New. The Old Testament was handed down by the Hebrew Levitical Order. The Old Testament in your Bible is either the Hebrew Masoretic Text or German: Rudolf Kittelís revised Masoretic Text.
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Ancient Discovery Confirms Masoretic Text--Skeptics Scramble!

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Who is a rock like our Rock?  The great prophet Samuel’s mother says in I Samuel 2:2:

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

Moses speaks in Deuteronomy 32:31:

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.

The Apostle Paul pens these words in I Corinthians 10:4:

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Who is a rock like our Rock?  This Christ is:

  • God’s Creator of the universe.
  • His Cross broke the curse of sin and death and made a way of escape for all who will call upon His name.
  • This Rock makes it possible for carnal man, who is dead in trespasses and sin, to be born again—even the power to become the sons of God; even the glory of partaking in the divine nature. 
  • This Christ has entrusted unto the redeemed the marvelous ministry of reconciliation—reconciling the lost sons of Adam unto God—an eternal purpose. 
  • This Jesus of Nazareth has bequeathed unto us the blessed hope, even eternal life in Him. 
  • And finally, this Rock has another name, Revelation 19:13: “…and his name is called The Word of God.”  This Living Word has been inscribed on the pages of the Holy Bible to teach and instruct in all that is good. 

Have you be born again—literally born a second time, this time of the Spirit of God?  Will today be the day all your sin, shame, and bondage is expunged and broken?  Make your move for Christ today and you will say with me, “Who is a rock like our Rock?”  Click onto “Further with Jesus” for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.  

GOD SAID, Deuteronomy 4:2:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

GOD SAID, Revelation 22:18-19:

18 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, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

GOD SAID, Psalm 12:6:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

GOD SAID, Proverbs 24:21:

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

MAN SAID: All Bible translations are the Word of God. 

Now THE RECORD: Welcome to GodSaidManSaid feature 825 that will, for the 825th time, certify the inerrancy of God’s Holy Bible.  All of these marvelous features are archived here in text and streaming audio for the edification of the saints and as a platform from whence to convince the gainsayers.  Every Thursday eve, God willing, they grow by one.  Thank you for coming.  May God’s face shine upon you with Light and Truth. 

Is there anything more important than a believer’s copy of the Holy Bible?  It will be obvious in this feature that all Bibles are not the same.  Today’s English translations—such as the NIV, TNIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB—are not translated from the same manuscripts as the 1611 Authorized King James Version of the Bible. 

There are two Testaments in the Bible—the Old and the New.  The Old Testament was handed down by the Hebrew Levitical Order.  The Old Testament in your Bible is either the Hebrew Masoretic Text or German: Rudolf Kittel’s revised Masoretic Text.  The Authorized King James Version uses the Hebrew Masoretic Text.  All other modern versions, including the NKJV, use Rudolf Kittel’s text.  New information you’ll read in this feature will address this issue. 

Regularly, GodSaidManSaid is asked about Bible translations.  Multiple features are offered here on this critical subject; for more information, visit the “Which Bible? Updated Series” on this website. 

Concerning the New Testament debate, there are two pivotal issues:  One, the term Textus Receptus (TR), meaning received text, and two, Majority Text (MT).  They are different, but one begets the other. 

The wide geographical use of a Bible text earned it the status of Textus Receptus—the accepted text of the Christian faith.  There are over 5,200 known manuscripts—according to Kurt Aland—that contain all or part of the Greek New Testament.  Keep in mind, until Gutenberg, there was no printing press.  The Bible was penned by scribes one at a time.  It took ten months to pen one Bible.  The term Majority Text was earned when the majority of the 5,200-plus manuscripts recorded the same thing. The Authorized King James Version’s New Testament is Majority Text.  Today’s modern translations listed earlier use the Minority Text.  The Majority Text—according to Riplinger—represents 99% of all extant (existing) Greek manuscripts, while the Minority Text claims 0.008%.  Several excerpts from GodSaidManSaid features follow pertaining to the New Testament issue. 

▶ GodSaidManSaid, “Gordon Challenges Erasmus and King James:”  

There is nothing more important than my copy of the Word of God.  I must know that it is accurate and true.  I am required to stake my life upon it.  GodSaidManSaid has addressed the issue of Bible translations numerous times and not all translations are the unadulterated Word of God.  Which Bible? 

This feature will address Gordon’s emailed challenges about Erasmus.  The following paragraphs are from the Bible historian G. A. Riplinger’s 1184-page tome titled In Awe of Thy Word:

By 1500, Erasmus (age 34):

“…had formed his resolve to study and edit [from errors] the Greek text of the New Testament as the distilled essence of that real Christianity which, in the judgment of reformers and humanists alike, had been overlaid and concealed by the dogmas and accretions of centuries” (Durant, p. 273)

Rummaging through the library of the Premonstration abbey at Pare near Louvain, at the age of 35, Erasmus had seen the manuscript of Lorenzo Valla’s annotations from at least three Greek New Testament manuscripts (Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. III, p. 80).  Valla had noted “serious errors in the Vulgate” (Durant, p.272).  Erasmus then:

“…devoted much of his career to the task of developing, refining, and extending Valla’s methods” (Bently, Jerry H., Humanists and Holy Writ, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983, chapter 2). 

Erasmus continued combing Europe and England for manuscripts, “examining libraries,” throughout his entire life. “He spent his time in the great libraries, devouring all the books he could find.”  He moved constantly, after he had exhausted the libraries and bookshelves of a city.  He wrote that he had acquired so many manuscripts that he needed two assistants to help carry them and plenty of time to “arrange them” (Froude, The Life and Letters, pp.55, 57-58, 54).

Erasmus wrote to a friend very early in his career:

“I am comparing Greek MSS.  I am determined to…devote myself to undiscovered [copies of the] epistles, which I burn to handle” (See the Leyden edition of Ep. Vol. lxxxiii, 1702 or Froude, The Life and Letters, p.63, note 2: “arcanis literis” is ‘undiscovered epistles’).

“We should not attribute to Erasmus the creation of a ‘received text,’ but only the transmission from a manuscript text, already commonly received, to a printed form, in which this text would continue to prevail for three centuries.”  —The Gentile Bias and Other Essays, The Erasmus Notes on Codex 2, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1980, p.168

Today, there are over 5200 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.  KJV critics ignore the fact that over 99% agree with Erasmus’ Greek New Testament and the KJV.  Less than one percent (0.008) agree with the odd omissions and changes in the TNIV, NIV, ESV, HCSB, NASB, NRSV, NLB, CEV, NCV, NAB, and NJB.  The agreement of this tiny minority is far from unanimous on many changes. 

Yet other critics, such as James White, feel that “Erasmus guessed,” or “Erasmus’ hunch” led him to the readings which match almost every Greek manuscript known today (White, James, The King James Only Controversy, Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publisher, 19954, pp. 58, 59).

Were Erasmus alive today, he would find that, in the main, he had managed to match almost all of the over 5200 Greek manuscripts, and wisely ignore the other 44 corrupt ones.  (If these critics had taken a course in Statistics in graduate school, they would know that guesses like this are statistically impossible, given the fact that the Greek New Testament has about 140,521 words.) 

Critics often assert that “Erasmus did not have the manuscripts we have today.”  In fact, he had access to every reading currently extant, and rejected those matching the Catholic Vulgate (and the TNIV, NIV, ESV, HCSB, and NASB today). 

Robert Stephanus (Estienne in French) produced a printed Greek New Testament after the death of Erasmus.  He used the 16 Greek manuscripts in the library of King Francis I and his son Henry II.  He said they were all identical down to the letter! 

Fifteen total editions of the Greek New Testament were printed by Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevirs.  They are, in the main, identical.  The KJV translators availed themselves of all of these, as well as numerous Greek manuscripts and vernacular editions.  On the title page of the KJV, the translators said that the King James Bible was “Translated out of the Original Greek.”  [End of quote]

D. Baker, in his book, A Visual History of the King James Bible, writes:

Zane Hodges, Arthur Farstad:  The Majority Text represents the best theory because it is the only way to account for the vast majority of the extant manuscripts.  Under normal transmission processes, this also is the only way to account for the dominance of the Byzantine text.  Textual critical practice also relies on majority reading support. 

Maurice Robinson, William Pierpont:  As stated by William McBrayer:

“The ‘Byzantine Textform’ best represents the text of the early church.  The emphasis in textual criticism is the history of the transmission of the text.  The result of the transmission process produced a textform that is represented in the vast number of surviving Greek manuscripts.  This view stresses that the overwhelming spread and dominance of the Byzantine text suggests it is closest to the original New Testament.” [End of quote]

Keep in mind, the Byzantine Text is what is found in the King James Version.

The following information from the GodSaidManSaid feature Which Bible? (Updated) Part I continues to address Gordon’s challenges:

In this colossal question of “What did God say?,” the concept of something known as the “majority-text” is pivotal!

    • There are over 5,000 handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament alone, which contain all or part of the New Testament.  If the majority of manuscripts said a particular verse was there, then it was written in the “majority-text.”
    • “Majority-text” is also known as the Traditional Text, Syrian Text, Byzantine Text, Kappa, or common text. 
    • Harvard scholar Hill states that, during the Byzantine Period, which spanned from 312 AD to 1453 AD, and for nearly three centuries of the Protestant Church, the “majority-text” was the authority.
    • Hodge, Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Dallas Theological Seminary and co-editor of a Greek New Testament book, writes: “Thus, the majority-text, upon which the King James Version is based, has in reality the strongest claim possible to be regarded as an authentic representation of the original text…based on its dominance in the transmissional history of the New Testament text.”
    • Again, Hodge writes: “Modern criticism repeatedly and systematically rejects majority readings on a large scale.  This is monstrously unscientific.  The Textus Receptus was too hastily abandoned.”  (The majority-text was gleaned from over 5,000 handwritten manuscripts.)

William Pickering, author of Identity of the New Testament Text, recipient of a Th.M. in Greek Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Toronto, wrote:

    • The new versions ignore the over 5,000 Greek manuscripts now extant. (Extant meaning “now existing.”)
    • The majority-text comes from manuscripts from Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, Alexandria, Africa, Gaul, Southern Italy, Sicily, England, and Ireland. 
    • A reading found in only one limited area cannot be original.  If a reading died out in the fourth century, we have the verdict of history against it. 
    • The King James Version has the majority-text and geography.
    • Metzger, author of The Text of the New Testament, writes: “Readings which are early and are supported by witnesses from a wide geographical area have a certain initial presumption in their favor.” 

NOTE:  Another name for the majority-text is the Syrian Text.  Central to the Apostle Paul’s ministry was the Syrian city of Antioch.  Acts 11:26:

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. [End of quotes]

▶ GodSaidManSaid,Which Bible? (Updated) Part II:”

In "Which Bible? (Updated) Part I," we discovered that Satan has mounted a global effort to change God’s Words. This was his M.O. in the Garden of Eden when he challenged God’s Words to Adam and Eve and said, "Yea, hath God said,...?" And it has not changed since.

We discovered in Part I that the Authorized King James Version of the Bible was and is:

  • Translated by the world’s greatest scholars.
  • Supported by the vast, vast majority of the original-Greek, handwritten-manuscripts, thus the term, "majority-text."
  • Supported by the oldest manuscripts.
  • Supported by manuscripts discovered in Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, Alexandria, Africa, Gaul, Southern Italy, Sicily, England, and Ireland, versus the new translations which are derived from a reading found in only one limited area.
  • The King James Version is translated from the Textus Receptus, which means "received text." It has been the authority among the redeemed for nearly 2,000 years!

GodSaidManSaid has received e-mails that state we spend too much time on minor issues concerning different translations, because all the translations are the Word of God. Keep in mind that Satan added one word and a question mark as he began his efforts to deceive Eve and destroy the souls of men. In Genesis 3, Satan said to Eve, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" When you remove hath and the question mark, the passage would read, "Yea, God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden." Research conducted by G.A. Riplinger compared the Authorized King James Version (majority-text) with the New International Version (minority-text) and discovered:

The NIV has 64,098 less words than the KJV. This omission of approximately 10% of the Bible—reduces a typical 1,700 page Bible by 170 pages. ..."

Fifteen entire verses have been omitted. [End of quotes]

The Old Testament Hebrew Masoretic Text is making big news.  One should know that skeptics have challenged the reliability of Biblical texts, claiming that the original writings have morphed over the years and what we are reading has been altered, or that the original intent was lost in translation.  It is interesting to note that Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and disciples never questioned ancient Old Testament writings that had been handed down, the oldest of them penned 1,500 years earlier.   

Concerning the Hebrew Masoretic Text, Dr. J. Moorman writes in his book Forever Settled:

These Masoretes took extraordinary pains to transmit without error the O.T. text.  Many complicated safeguards against scribal slips were devised.  W.J. Martin states the number of letters in a book was counted and its middle letter was given.  Similarly, with the words, and again the middle word of the book was noted.  They collected any peculiarities in spelling.  They recorded the number of times a particular word or phrase occurred.  It is generally believed that vowel points and other written signs to aid in pronunciation were introduced into the text by the Masoretes.  God working in Jewish scribes to preserve the purity of the text can be summed up in the words of Rabbi Akiba, who died in approximately AD 135: “The accurate transmission is a fence for the Torah.”  He also stressed the importance of preserving even the smallest letter. Thus the promise of Christ in Matthew 5:18 is fulfilled. 

In the words of the learned Professor E.C. Bissell:

“There ought to be no doubt that, in the text which we inherit from the Masoretes, and they from the Talmudists, and the same text being transmitted to this period from the time of Ezra under the peculiarly sacred seal of the Jewish canon—we have a correct copy of the original documents, and one worthy of all confidence.”  [End of quotes]

The headline on the September 22, 2016, release of BreakingIsraelNews.com reads, “Burned Mystery Scroll Digitally Unraveled Reveals Bible Unchanged for 2,000 Years.”  Excerpts follow:

The remarkable discovery of verses from the Book of Leviticus, which matched, letter-for-letter, the Hebrew text still in use today, is the first instance of one of the Five Books of Moses ever found in a Holy Ark. 

When the researchers saw the first results, it made for a startling revelation: the scroll contained the first eight verses of Leviticus, making it the earliest Torah writings ever found in the Holy Ark of an ancient synagogue and marking a significant discovery in Biblical archaeology. 

“This is quite amazing for us.  In 2,000 years, this text has not changed,” Emmanuel Tov, a participant in the study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the Times of Israel. 

Jewish scribal tradition ensures that discrepancies in reproduction do not occur.  Holy texts are hand-copied letter-for-letter from accepted originals.  Strict guidelines are given for writing techniques, shapes of letters, and breaks in the text, striving to maintain an unbroken chain from Sinai.  The latest discovery is the closest Jews have yet come to proof that the chain has remained intact.  [End of quotes]

Daniel Estrin of AP Jerusalem writes:

The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist’s storeroom for decades, too brittle to open.  Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a Biblical text in its standardized form.  

The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years. 

The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using  “virtual unwrapping,” a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan.  Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the text of an ancient scroll without having to physically open it. 

“You can’t imagine the joy in the lab,” said Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who participated in the study. [End of quote]

On September 21, 2016, the headline of NationalGeographic.com read, “Computers Decipher Burnt Scroll Found in Ancient Holy Ark.”  Two paragraphs follow:

Emmanuel Tov, a fellow co-author and Biblical scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says that the Ein Gedi Scroll specifically helps by refining the timeline of how the authoritative Hebrew Bible—also known as the Masoretic Text—came to be. 

“There are clear signs of continuity of tradition,” he says.  “It can’t be coincidental that the synagogue in Ein Gedi that was burned in the sixth century housed an early scroll whose text was completely identical with medieval texts.  The same central stream of Judaism that used this Levitical scroll in one of the early centuries of our era was to continue using it until the late Middle Ages when printing was invented.” [End of quotes]

The following was written by Samantha Gobba on World.WNG.org on September 22, 2016:

Once the Ein-Gedi scroll was available for Biblical scholars to study, it proved highly significant: The text scholars can read is identical to the Hebrew Masoretic Text used today. 

Either way, the scroll proves those 18 lines of God’s Law have not changed, one jot or tittle, in at least 1,700 years. 

Regent University’s Corné Bekker said this latest discovery is yet another score for Biblical accuracy through the centuries. 

“Every new discovery in Biblical archaeology has served to underscore the trustworthiness of the Bible,” Bekker told me.  “Science and faith are not enemies, but friends.”  [End of quotes]

Thousands of years have passed and God’s Word is still God’s Word, but critics continue to challenge. 

Dr. Henry Morris, founder of the world renowned Institute for Creation Research, writes:

Even many King James Bibles have footnotes referring to what are said to be "better manuscripts" which indicate that certain changes should be made in the King James text. But what are these manuscripts, and are they really better? It is significant that almost all of the new versions of the New Testament are based on what is known as the Westcott-Hort Greek text, whereas the King James is based largely on what is known as the Textus Receptus. As far as the Hebrew text is concerned, the King James is based on the Masoretic (meaning, handed down) text, while the modern versions rely heavily on Kittel’s revised Masoretic text.

The Masoretic text was compiled from the ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament by the Hebrew scholars dedicated to guarding and standardizing the traditional Hebrew text "handed down" from the earlier Hebrew scribes, who had in turn meticulously copied the ancient Hebrew manuscripts, scrupulously guarding against error. As far as the Hebrew text developed by Rudolf Kittel is concerned, it is worth noting that Kittel was a German rationalistic higher critic, rejecting Biblical inerrancy and firmly devoted to evolutionism.

The men most responsible for alterations in the New Testament text were B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort, whose Greek New Testament was largely updated by Eberhard Nestle and Kurt Aland. All of these men were evolutionists. Furthermore, Westcott and Hort both denied Biblical inerrancy and promoted Spiritism and racism. Nestle and Aland, like Kittel, were German theological skeptics.

Westcott and Hort were also the most influential members of the English revision committee which produced the English Revised Version of the Bible. The corresponding American revision committee which developed the American Standard Version of 1901 was headed by another liberal evolutionist, Philip Schaff. Most new versions since that time have adopted the same presuppositions as those of the 19th century revisers.

Furthermore, the Westcott-Hort text was mainly based on two early Greek manuscripts, the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus texts, which were rediscovered and rescued from long (and well-deserved) obscurity in the 19th century.

Dr. Morris concluded with this thought:

So one of the serious problems with most modern English translations is that they rely heavily on Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible developed by liberals, rationalists, and evolutionists, none of whom believed in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. Is this how God would preserve His Word? Would He not more likely have used devout scholars who believed in the absolute inerrancy and authority of the Bible?" [End of quote]

 Who is a rock like our Rock? 

GOD SAID, Deuteronomy 4:2:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

GOD SAID, Revelation 22:18-19:

18 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, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

GOD SAID, Psalm 12:6:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

GOD SAID, Proverbs 24:21:

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

MAN SAID: All Bible translations are the Word of God.

Now you have THE RECORD.

 

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

Berkowitz, A., “Burned Mystery Scroll Digitally Unraveled Reveals Bible Unchanged for 2,000 Years,” BreakingIsraelNews.com, September 22, 2016

Estrin, D., “Scanning Software Deciphers Ancient Biblical Scroll,” AP Jerusalem, September 21, 2016

Gobba, S., “Scholars Unwrap Ancient Biblical Text,” World.WNG.org, September 22, 2016

GodSaidManSaid, “Gordon Challenges Erasmus and King James

GodSaidManSaid, “Which Bible? (Updated) Part I

GodSaidManSaid, “Which Bible? (Updated) Part II

Greshko, M, “Computers Decipher Burnt Scroll Found in Ancient Holy Ark,” NationalGeographic.com, September 21, 2016

Moorman, J., Forever Settled, Dean Burgon Society Press, 1999

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