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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dr. Frank Logsdon and the NASB: Another Christian Myth

Posted by jlwile on December 22, 2011

When I decided to start a blog, I wanted to devote a section of it to ideas that are popular in modern Christendom but are simply not true. I call these “Christian Myths,” and you can see the ones I have written about so far. Interestingly enough, one of those articles (Laminin Shaminin) is the most common article on this blog that people find via search engines. Even though the majority of my writing is devoted to scientific issues, I do keep a lookout for any Christian myths that need to be addressed.

A few days ago, someone left a comment that was a bit far away from the topic of the post for me to approve. However, I read it and replied to the commenter via E-MAIL, as I always do in such situations. The person’s comment included a discussion of Dr. Frank Logsdon, a man who claims to have been an integral part of the team that developed the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I tried to track down the primary source for the quote, but I could not find it. The closest I could come is an article by David Sorenson. Here is what that article says:

Dr. Frank Logsdon was the co-founder of the New American Standard Bible (NASB). He since has renounced any connection to it.

“I must, under God, renounce every attachment to the New American Standard Version. I’m afraid I’m in trouble with the Lord… We laid the groundwork; I wrote the format; I helped interview some of the translators; I sat with the translator; I wrote the preface… I’m in trouble; I can’t refute these arguments; its wrong, terribly wrong… The deletions are absolutely frightening. . .there are so many. Are we so naive that we do not suspect Satanic deception in all of this?

Upon investigation, I wrote my dear friend, Mr. Lockman (editor’s note: Mr. Lockman was the benefactor through which the NASV was published) explaining that I was forced to renounce all attachment to the NASV (editors note: This is the same as the NASB)…”

Now, of course, this sounds very bad for the NASB. If the “co-founder” of the translation – the man who wrote the format, interviewed and sat with the translators, and wrote the preface – denounces the NASB, it must be a terrible translation. Fortunately, it is almost certainly not true.

I am not by any means an expert on the various Bible translations or their histories. However, I do have experience doing literature research. One thing this experience has taught me is to never believe quotes unless they can be backed up by primary documentation. Since I couldn’t find the primary source of the quote, that bothered me. However, it’s an old quote, so maybe the primary source is just really hard to find. I decided to dig a little more, and without much trouble, I came across this statement, which claims to be an official statement from The Lockman Foundation, the nonprofit ministry that translated and distributes the New American Standard Bible, Amplified Bible, La Biblia de las Américas, and Nueva Biblia Latinoamericana de Hoy:

The Board of Directors of The Lockman Foundation launched the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE translation work in the late 1950′s following the completion of the AMPLIFIED NEW TESTAMENT. Dr. S. Franklin Logsdon was acquainted with Dewey Lockman, president of The Lockman Foundation, prior to Mr. Lockman’s death in 1974. Mr. Logsdon was never a member of the Board of Directors, nor was he an employee of The Lockman Foundation. Mr. Logsdon had no authority to hire employees or translators for the Foundation, to set policy, to vote, to hold office, to incur expenses, etc. He cannot be considered “co-founder” of the NASB, nor part of The Lockman Foundation, nor part of the NASB translation team, nor did he write the forward of the NASB. According to our records, he was present at board meetings on two occasions — once to hear a travel report; and once to deliver an “inspirational thought.”

Mr. Logsdon last wrote to Mr. Lockman in fall of 1973 that he was moving to Florida. Mr. Lockman replied that he was surprised and saddened by his decision to leave the area. Mr. Lockman passed away in January of 1974, and no further correspondence was exchanged between Frank Logsdon and The Lockman Foundation. He resided in Florida until his passing some years ago.

The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8 (NASB)

Unfortunately, the website had no reference for the quote, so I contacted the Lockman Foundation directly. They confirmed that it is their official statement on the matter, and they gave me permission to publish it here.

I hope this helps to refute what seems to have become an “urban legend” among some Christians.

UPDATE (9/17/2012): Someone who read this post sent me what seems to be the primary source for this urban legend. It is a recording of Dr. Logsdon that is played in a sermon you can find here. The recording is introduced at 1:19:14 and starts playing shortly afterwards.

Comments

35 Responses to “Dr. Frank Logsdon and the NASB: Another Christian Myth”
  1. Josiah says:

    It is shameful that people would employ such deceptive techniques in their attempt to preserve what they see as the Truth of God’s word. Do they not realize that, even if they were right in their criticism of the translation, lies are always the enemy of truth?

  2. Josiah says:

    Merry Christmas Doctor.

  3. jlwile says:

    Thanks so much, Josiah! Merry Christmas to you.

  4. jlwile says:

    Josiah, in reference to your first comment, there obviously were one or more people who started the lie. However, I think it spread just because people didn’t bother to check it out. After all, it works so well with some people’s preconceived notions that they simply assume it is true, without ever looking for evidence. So while the originators of this lie can definitely be admonished for thinking they can lie in the cause of Christ, most of the people who spread the lie are just being lazy.

  5. David Smart says:

    It is your refreshing intellectual honesty and integrity which, in part, makes your blog one of my favorites to read and stay up to date with. I hope you were able to enjoy the blessing of family and fellowship this Christmas. Looking forward to your discussions in the new year.

  6. jlwile says:

    Thank you so much, David! I had a very blessed Christmas, and I hope you did, too.

  7. Matt says:

    I appreciate the whole “Christian Myths” theme. I find it deeply disappointing when fellow believers buy in to so much of the nonsense that is out there. I know people are people, but Christians need to really step it up in the area of truth-seeking, in my opinion.

    I believe that the best witness for Christ is that of a person who honestly and diligently seeks after truth, come hell or high water. When a non-believer sees that his Christian friend is a sincere truth-seeker in all areas, he is more likely to be interested in the fact that his friend is a follower of Christ.

    Thanks for doing these topics in particular!

  8. jlwile says:

    My pleasure, Matt. I am glad that you appreciate it!

  9. josiah says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with what Matt says. I consider one of the few things more disappointing than a dogmatic scientist to be a dogmatic pastor. Both are supposed to be seekers of the truth, but the pastor should also demonstrate an element of humility that should guard against that arrogant attitude.

    Such virtues are good in everyone of course, but it’s pitiful when even the leaders of the church so clearly lack them.

  10. Louise says:

    Thank you for this blog entry! A couple extreme KJV-only people I know are on a crusade to convince everyone that God has preserved only the KJV as His inspired Word of God. (Any other version is an attempt from the devil to pervert God’s truth.)

    These people have researched the issue much more than I have, and they know a lot. One mentioned the Frank Logsdon scenario of which I was not aware. After reading your entry, it makes sense to me; but these Ruckmanites (who do love God but love their “1611″ KJV more, I think) refuse to believe what you say. They have “hundreds” of proofs that the NASV is corrupted and evil.

    I actually love and use the KJV, but I also like other versions as well. I no longer attempt to “reason” with these people as they are very argumentative and will not even let you state your facts without labeling you as unlearned backslidden, lukewarm Christian and other unkind remarks. They refuse to hear anything contrary to what they believe. We used to be very close friends, but sorry to say the KJV issue caused them to separate from us.

    I do thank you for your research. I just wish Christians would read this and check their facts carefully (like you did) before passing on information as truth.

  11. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your comment, Louise. Unfortunately, you can find Christians who take such extreme views on everything. For some reason, these Christians focus on secondary issues and blow them into non-negotiable essentials to the Christian faith. It is truly sad and most certainly does not help the cause of Christ.

  12. Vivielle says:

    How did I miss that you have a Christian Myth category??? Off to go read it now!

    Hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for a happy new year!

  13. jlwile says:

    I hope you enjoy the reading, Vivielle. Thanks for your holiday wishes. I pray the same for you!

  14. gracekalman says:

    Dr. Wile, I tracked down my source for that quote- a Bible Version Comparison pamphlet I obtained from my church. Unfortunately, they did not state their source. I will remember not to use this in the future. However, I didn’t base my beliefs on this one quote, so it doesn’t really matter to me. I hope I will never be guilty of insulting someone over this issue. I have many non-KJV using friends, and I would never want to lose them over this issue, but I would never join a church that did not use only the KJV. How on earth do you conduct a Bible study when everyone is using a different version?
    On a side note, what do you know about the LXX? Did it ever actually exist, or is it the figment of someone’s imagination? I have heard from many people that it never actually existed, but it seems strange that someone would just make up such a legend. Is there any proof for it? Just curious.

  15. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your comment, Grace. I knew you didn’t base your beliefs on that one quote. After all, it was only about the supposed deficiencies in the NASB, not the superiority of the KJV. I just think it speaks to the quality of research used by those who employ the quote.

    The LXX is another name for the Septuagint, which is an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. It was started in the 3rd century BC and was finished by 132 BC. Whoever says it never existed doesn’t know much of anything about Biblical history, as it was incredibly important to both Jews and Christians. Philo of Alexandria (a Jewish theologian/philosopher) and Titus Flavius Josephus (a Jewish historian) actually claimed that the translators who did the translation of the LXX were divinely inspired. I obviously don’t agree, but it gives you an idea of how important that manuscript is to the Jews. To understand how important it is to Christians, you need to realize that it is actually quoted in the New Testament. In Matthew 1:23, for example, the version of Isaiah 7:14 that is quoted is actually the LXX version. Similar quotes appear in all four gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter.

    The oldest manuscripts of the LXX come from the second century BC and contain parts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There are also several manuscripts of the LXX from the first century BC. The first complete version is in the Codex Vaticanus, which dates to the fourth century AD. It’s existence is most certainly not in doubt.

  16. gracekalman says:

    That is incredibly interesting. Would you be refering to Vatinacus B? What are the origens of that document? For that matter, what are the origins of the Septuagint?

  17. jlwile says:

    I am not talking about what is generally called the “Codex Vaticanus B” (also called “Codex Vaticanus 3773″). That’s an Aztec document which discusses certain rituals in the Aztec religion. It is stored in the Vatican, which houses all manner of documents, many of which are from other religions.

    I am talking about the “Codex Vaticanus,” which is one of the oldest Greek Bibles, also stored in the Vatican. The Old Testament in that Bible is important because it is the earliest nearly complete copy of the Septuagint (also called LXX). The Septuagint began as a translation of the first five books of the Old Testament that was commissioned by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the king of Egypt in 283-246 BC. The first five books in Greek became so popular that it was decided to start translating more of the Old Testament into Greek, and that got finished by 132 BC. The version in the Codex Vaticanus comes from the 4th century AD, so it is only about 500 years older than when the original was finished.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Dr. Wile, have you ever read anything about the Septuagint containing ‘errors’?

    http://www.christianmissionconnection.org/The_Septuagint_A_Critical_Analysis.pdf

    That paper in the link is lengthy but really I just wondered if you knew anything about this, since it came up in the discussion.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Floyd Jones wrote a technical book on biblical chronology/math of the Bible and I think, believes Inerrancy.

  20. jlwile says:

    I really don’t know much about any alleged translational errors in the LXX, Elizabeth, but I can tell you that based on my short perusal of Jones’s manuscript, I would not trust his writing. He makes a huge mistake at the outset that indicates he doesn’t understand the history of the LXX or the culture of the times. He claims that if the accepted account of the LXX is correct (and it is), then it was the version of the Bible that Jesus and the Apostles used. Also, since it has some of the books of the Apocrypha, this implies an endorsement of the Apocrypha. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the synagogue, only the Hebrew Scriptures were used. Thus, the Bible that Jesus and the Apostles used in synagogue was Hebrew, regardless of what other translations existed. Jews at the time would not consider anything but the Hebrew manuscripts preserved in the synagogues to be Scripture. Thus, while a Jew might read the LXX for his own education, he would not consider it Scripture.

    Also, he seems not to understand the basic historical fact that the LXX was produced by order of a king of Egypt for the Hellenistic, Egyptian Jews. Since Christ and his Apostles were not Hellenistic, Egyptian Jews, it was not even translated for them.

    Finally, Judaism has always recognized only 24 books in their canon of Scripture. This list is referred to as the “Tanakh,” and it contains none of the Apocrypha. Thus, there would be no implied endorsement, even if the Apostles or Christ used the LXX. It was common for the Jews to translate many religious texts that were not considered Scripture (like the teachings of the Rabbis), and the Apocryphal works that are included with the LXX are there simply because they were done by the same translators. Just because they were collected in a single book, they would not be looked on as a part of the Scriptures, since they were not in the Hebrew documents that were preserved in the synagogues.

    Jones makes the common, amateur mistake of applying our way of thinking to cultures for which it doesn’t apply. This causes serious problems for his historical analysis. It would also strongly affect his translational analysis, but I am not knowledgeable enough to address that.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    That helps. Thanks for looking at it.

  22. gracekalman says:

    So the Codex Vaticanus you refer to is the one based on Origen’s writings? Didn’t Origen have something to do with the available portions of the Septuagint?

  23. jlwile says:

    Grace, Origen had nothing to do with the Septuagint. It was completed by 132 BC, which was about 300 years before Origen was born. He is widely known for producing something called the “Hexapla,” which was essentially a side-by-side comparison of several versions of Scripture. The Septuagint was one of the included versions, and he did comment on where he thought the Greek in the Septuagint was not supported by the Hebrew documents. However, he had nothing to do with the Septuagint itself – he merely commented on it.

    The Codex Vaticanus also has nothing to do with Origen. It is considered to be the oldest Greek Bible still in existence, and the Old Testament of that Bible is the Septuagint. It doesn’t contain anything by Origen.

  24. gracekalman says:

    I believe the Codex Vaticanus is the oldest existing copy of the Bibles that Constantine commissioned Eusebius to produce for the fifty churches he planned to build in Constantinople. What text did Eusebius use in preparing these Bibles? Eusebius considered Origen to have been the greatest of men; he claimed to have collected over 800 of Origen’s letters and to have used his Hexapla. Thus, Eusebius selected the fifth column of Origen’s Hexapla (the Septuagint) for the Old Testament, adding the Apocrypha, and completed the work using Origen’s edited New Testament. How did Origen have nothing to do with this? By the way, were you referring to the Codex Vaticanus when you mentioned the “originals”? Also, why on earth would Jesus quote from the Septuagint? He had his own Hebrew scriptures to quote from, as did Paul, a self-proclaimed pharisee of pharisees. What exactly do you mean when you say that they were quoting the Septuagint?

  25. jlwile says:

    Grace, we don’t know whether or not the Codex Vaticanus is one of those fifty Bibles. It is most certainly possible, but there is no hard evidence linking it to that project. There is also no evidence that Eusebius used the Hexpla in compiling those Bibles. He certainly had the Hexpla. He had even made comments on it. However, nowhere do we read that he used the Hexpla in making those fifty Bibles.

    In any event, there are second-century BC fragments of the LXX that contain Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In addition, there are first-century BC fragments of the LXX that contain Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets. The Old Testament in the Codex Vaticanus matches those fragments. Since all those fragments existed before Origen was born, it is clear that Origen had nothing to do with the Old Testament of the Codex Vaticanus.

    You say that Eusebius used “Origen’s edited New Testament.” To my knowledge, Origen had no such work. His Hexpla dealt only with the Old Testament. He is said to have written more than 6,000 works, but I know of none that would be considered an edited version of the New Testament. To my knowledge, the surviving works of Origen that relate to the New Testament are De Principiis, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Commentary on Romans, Homilies on Hebrews, and Homilies on Joshua. These certainly refer to New Testament books, but they do not edit them in any way. They are also not translations in any way. I don’t know that Origen did any Greek translation of the New Testament.

    I am not sure why you ask, “why on earth would Jesus quote from the Septuagint?” I never said that He did. In fact, I told Elizabeth that Jesus and His disciples would not consider anything to be Scripture except the Hebrew documents that were preserved in the synagogues.

    You ask, “What exactly do you mean when you say that they were quoting the Septuagint?” I mean that if you look at the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament, you will see that they often match the LXX when they quote the Old Testament. Thus, the LXX was clearly an important document, even to early Christians. Now, once again, as I told Elizabeth, they did not consider the LXX to be the Scripture. Only the Hebrew Old Testament was Scripture to them. Nevertheless, when they decided to say what the Scriptures said in Greek, they often used the LXX version.

  26. gracekalman says:

    The sixth column of the Hexapla contains his edited new testament.
    You are probably aware of the fact that the King James Bible is translated from the Textus Receptus while all the modern versions are translated from the Greek text prepared by Westcott and Hort. If Codex Vaticanus (which makes up 90% of their text) was translated from Origen’s Hexapla (which you can’t prove it wasn’t) it is not surprising that the Westcott-Hort text has Jesus’ quotations the same as the Septuagint.

  27. jlwile says:

    Grace, I am not sure where you are getting your information, but it is simply wrong. The Hexpla did not contain the New Testament. It was solely an Old Testament work. The six columns were as follows:

    1. The Old Testament in Hebrew
    2. The Old Testament Hebrew transliterated into Greek characters
    3. The Greek translation of the Old Testament by Aquila of Sinope
    4. The Greek translation of the Old Testament by Symmachus the Ebionite
    5. The LXX, with Origen’s notes as to where he thought the Greek was not supported by the Hebrew
    6. The Greek Translation of the Old Testament by Theodotion

    Thus, as you see, the sixth column of the Hexpla is not the New Testament, and it is not by Origen. It is the Old Testament, and it is by Theodotion.

    I most certainly can prove that at least parts of the Codex Vaticanus did not use Origen’s Hexpla. As I mentioned before, there are first- and second-century BC documents that contain many parts of the LXX. In all cases, they match what is in the Codex Vaticanus, even though some of them are passages where Origen’s 5th column of the Hexpla says the Greek is not supported by the Hebrew. Since Origen wasn’t born when those documents were written, and since he disagreed with the translation in certain parts, it is clear he had nothing to do with those passages. Given the fact that in every case where we have pre-Origen documents of the LXX, they match the Codex Vaticanus, it is clear that Origen had nothing to do with the Codex Vaticanus.

    When I say that the Greek New Testament quotes the LXX, I am not referring to the Westcott-Hort text. I am referring to the oldest Greek documents we have for the New Testament. In other words, when I get documents that are as close in time to the original as possible, they match the LXX when they quote the Old Testament. Also, please note that since the Hexpla doesn’t contain anything related to the New Testament, it is clear that the Hexpla had nothing to do with the New Testament. Thus, when discussing how the New Testament quotes the LXX, the Hexpla once again has no bearing.

    Also, you seem to have been misinformed regarding the sources of the modern translations. For the Old Testament, the NASB’s main source was Rudolf Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica. However, it was supplemented based on the Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered after Kittel’s work was complete) so as to get the text as close to the original as possible. The New Testament main source was Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, although once again, weight was given to more ancient documents that had appeared after Nestle’s work was complete in order to produce a translation that was as close to the original as possible.

    Given that the sources you are reading don’t even know what the Hexpla was, I think you need to expand your reading list a bit, if you want to learn the facts regarding the various translations that are out there.

  28. gracekalman says:

    Why didn’t the translators of the NASB use the Textus Receptus?

  29. gracekalman says:

    Also, I checked back with the book I took my information from (Which Version Is the Bible, by Floyd Nolan Jones) and I was definitely mistaken about Origen’s sixth column. When discussing Origen, he explained the first five columns and then moved on to what Origen did to the New Testament and I jumped to the conclusion that that was the sixth column, but the book never says that, so I was mistaken, and not the author.
    As for Origen’s edited knew testament, information on that can be found in Ecclesiastical History, by Eusebius, Who Was Who in Church History, by Elgin S. Moyer, and The Romance of Bible Scripts and Scholars, by John H.P. Reumann.

  30. jlwile says:

    Grace, I am glad that you now understand that Origen’s Hexpla has nothing to do with the New Testament. I hope you also understand that Origen had nothing to do with the Codex Vaticanus. The oldest documents of the LXX make that very clear.

    I have read Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius, and he does not say anything about Origen having an edited New Testament. I have not read the other two sources you mention, but I have read several other sources that discuss Origen, and none of them mention him having an edited New Testament. Please give me one reputable historical source that mentions an edited New Testament by Origen. Give me at least the pages upon which this is discussed so that I can look it up, because I don’t think any such thing exists. Please note that this reference must provide some evidence for the fact that it exists. Ideally, it would also discuss why so many scholars of Origen seem to have no idea that it exists.

    You ask, “Why didn’t the translators of the NASB use the Textus Receptus?” The answer is simple. There are much better documents available today. Erasmus did a great job with what he had, but he had only the manuscripts he could locate in Basle. Those manuscripts didn’t even contain the entire New Testament, so he had to use the Latin Vulgate to fill in the gaps. We now have much earlier manuscripts that allow for a translation that is much closer to the original than is the Textus Receptus.

  31. gracekalman says:

    Better documents? As in, the Bible used by the true church down through the ages is defective? There were other documents that were better, “purer?” God promised to preserve His word, He magnified it above His name, and then He allowed a defective test to be used by his church for over a thousand years? What kind of preservation is that? “Erasmus did a great job with what he had, but he had only the manuscripts he could locate in Basle.” This is simply incorrect. In Erasmus: A Study of His Life, Dr. Preserved Smith (that is actually his name) claims that “For the first edition Erasmus had before him ten manuscripts, four of which he found in England, and five at Basle … The last codex was lent him by Hohn Reuchlin … (and) appeared to Erasmus so old that it might have come from the apostolic age”. Erasmus knew all of the important variant readings known to scholars today. This may be proven from a perusal of his notes. Dr. Frederic Nolan (1784-1864) was a Greek and Latin scholar who, as an eminent historian, researched Egyptian chronologhy and spent twenty eight years tracing the Received Text to its apostolic origin. After surveying Erasmus’ notes, Nolan recorded, “With respect to manuscripts, it is indisputable that he was acquainted with every variety which is known to us; having distributed them into two principle classes, one of which corresponds with … the Vatican manuscript … the church, he was aware, was infested with Origenists and Arians; and affinity between any manuscript and that version, consequently conveyed some suspicion that its text was corrupted.” (Nolan, An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, pp. 413-415)
    You mentioned Eberhard Nestle’s Greek text. This text contains an average of four changes per verse as compared to the Textus Receptus. One text must be right, and one must be wrong. Which is it? Would you expect another gospel to be circulating? Has someone founded a “Yea, hath God said?” society? Paul recorded that “many” were already perverting the word of God in his time. What proof do you have that the oldest manuscripts haven’t been perverted?

  32. jlwile says:

    Grace, we do have better documents today. I am sorry that this fact offends you, but from a historical standpoint, it can’t be argued. After all, Erasmus had so few manuscripts that he didn’t even have the entire New Testament in Greek. He had to use the Latin Vulgate to fill in the gaps. Clearly a complete set of Greek manuscripts is better than a situation in which you have to use a Latin translation to fill in the gaps!

    I am not sure what you mean by “the Bible used by the true church down through the ages.” If you read any reasonable history of the Christian church, you will learn that the early church used all sorts of different manuscripts, because manuscripts didn’t get around very quickly in the early days of the church. As a result, one church was using one set of manuscripts, and another church was using another. In addition, for a while, the early church couldn’t even agree on which specific books were part of Scripture. You most certainly can’t be referring to the Textus Receptus here, since it wasn’t published until 1516. Thus, it has not been used “down through the ages.”

    You ask, “There were other documents that were better, ‘purer?’” While “purer” is probably not the best word, the answer is clearly, “Yes – there are other documents that are better than the ones which formed the basis of the Textus Receptus.” Any time you get a document that is closer in time to the original, it has less chance of containing mistakes or additions/deletions. Thus, the earlier the documents, the better. As I said, Erasmus did a great job with what he had. We just have a lot more documents today, and many of them are much earlier.

    I agree that God promised to preserve His Word, and He certainly did. Most ancient manuscripts are simply lost. The Bible was not lost. In addition, it has been transmitted with more accuracy than any document of its time. Thus, it has been incredibly well preserved. However, that doesn’t mean its translations can’t be improved by using more documents, comparing the differences between documents, and emphasizing the earliest ones.

    Dr. Preserved Smith (it is an interesting name) is simply wrong in his assertion. Erasmus had only six manuscripts for his first edition, and they were not complete:

    “Erasmus’ first edition was based on not more than six manuscripts at the most, and of these only one was either ancient or valuable, and none was complete.” [Sir Frederic George Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts: Being a History of the Text and Its Translations, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1895, p. 99]

    “Hurried through the press of Froben between September and March, it was formed on the authority of six manuscripts at most, the best of which Erasmus neglected almost entirely to consult. We have already traced the history of some of these manuscripts and have seen them in the hands of Johann Reuchlin. Four of them are still at Basel; a fifth, now in the Oettingen-Wallerstein Library at Mayhingen, was the one authority available for the Apocalypse. The last six verses of the last chapter are missing; and Erasmus was reduced to translating them into rather surprising Greek from the Latin Vulgate.”
    [Lord Acton, The Cambridge Modern History Vol 1, The Macmillan Company, 1902, p. 603]

    “This version, a good translation for the time it was written, was based upon Erasmus’ Greek New Testament, which used about six manuscripts, none earlier than the tenth century…Approximately twelve passages contain readings not attested by any Greek manuscripts…”[Paul D. Wegner, Journey from Texts to Translations, The: The Origin and Development of the Bible, Baker Academic 2004, p. 337]

    This obviously shows that your following statement, ” Erasmus knew all of the important variant readings known to scholars today,” is clearly false. In fact, Erasmus had only six documents, they were rather recent compared to what we have now, and he didn’t even have the complete New Testament in Greek! Thus, it was impossible for him to know all the variants we know today! Dr. Nolan clearly doesn’t have the facts to back up his statement. Indeed, how could Erasmus possibly be “acquainted with every variety which is known to us” when many of the manuscripts we have today weren’t even known in Erasmus’s time?

    You also seem to be confused on the differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle text. You say that there is “an average of four changes per verse compared to the Textus Receptus.” Think about that for a moment. The New Testament contains about 8,000 verses. That would mean, according to your count, that there are 32,000 differences between these two texts. That is absurd. In fact, a computer search shows that when you compare the Textus Receptus with four different texts including the Nestle text, you come up with only 4,165 translatable differences. That’s between the Textus Receptus and four different texts! When you look at just the Textus Receptus and the Nestle text, there are 3,323 differences. Once again, based on all the factual errors in your sources, you need to expand your reading list!

    You ask, “What proof do you have that the oldest manuscripts haven’t been perverted?” I have no proof. You have no proof that the Textus Receptus, which was based on only six incomplete manuscripts, none of which were older than the tenth century, has not been perverted. However, the difference is that I have historical science on my side. As I said at the beginning, historical science has shown time and time again that the older the manuscript, the closer it generally is to the original. This makes sense, as the longer the time between original and copy, the more likely there are additions, deletions, or errors introduced.

  33. Darren Gruett says:

    I just came across your blog and this article. As one who uses the NASB, I appreciate your thoughtful look at this subject. God bless you.

  34. jlwile says:

    Thank you, Darren. I am glad the article was helpful!

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