5 Stars Out Of 5
Rehabilitating the Textus receptus
December 16, 2011
This brief text packs a punch as it intends to challenge mainstream thinking about textual criticism of the Bible. William Einwechter defends the superiority of the KJV. This writer, however, should not to be confused with some KJV only advocates that are adamant about the superiority of a historical translation that trumps the Hebrew and Greek autographs. This author is far too serious to make that error. His platform is the twin doctrines of the plenary verbal inspiration of the autographs and the preservation of the authoritative Word by God. Given these assumptions it is difficult to argue against the thesis in this book. If one claims that in text critical matters we need be neutral, and as such, utilize the best of human learning to determine the original as best approximated by human wisdom is one on a firm foundation? This begs the question concerning the reality of a neutral perspective or place, so to speak, from where one may begin investigation of any matter, including textual criticism. The Bible sets the agenda for understanding God and ourselves in the world we inhabit. If we are to set aside God's perspective on His word we will be on shaky ground, indeed. No doubt, it is a worthy goal to evaluate the plethora of Bible publications, and then to determine which is the most faithful Bible to the original writings.
This reviewer, along with Einwechter, does not believe that God gave Paul the KJV as is caricatured in various church circles. But at the same time there is much merit in the historical observation that the tradition of the English speaking church since the reformation has been to utilize a Masoretic Hebrew Bible and a Greek Textus Receptus (a form of the Byzantine text-type) for the New Testament until 1881. It is only with the rise of higher critical methods and the discovery in the late 19th century and early twentieth century of a few Egyptian manuscripts that led to the questioning of the value of the Byzantine or Ecclesiastical text, of which the Textus Receptus is a form, and has led in our day to an almost wholesale abandonment of the Authorized or King James Version. The abundance of manuscripts testifies that this text-type has widespread use throughout church history according to Einwechter.
The many recent translations, notes Einwechter, adopt the translation philosophy of either formal equivalence, meaning as literal as possible following closely the "form" of the original, or dynamic equivalence, which attempts a concept for concept notion. He affirms the clear superiority of the formal equivalence translation philosophy and practice.
Beyond these methodological starting points and the question of which text-type to use, Einwechter develops his argument historically with support from diverse writers, such as, Francis Turretin, John Owen, E. F. Hills, John Burgon, and Theodore Letis. He joins this legacy of defending the King James Bible and its Hebrew and Greek foundation texts.
Overall, I believe this book does an admirable job of achieving its goals, and presents us with a case for the re-evaluation of the much neglected Authorized Version, and the Greek text, in particular, which underlies it. In short, this is an attempt to rehabilitate the Textus Receptus. It pleases me. I trust this book gets a wide reading.