The Recieved Text

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Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor

The churches are being told by the textual critics that the latest manuscript discoveries and the most recent scholarship demand that we accept a mutilated New Testament. A N.T. where the last 12 verses of Mark, the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 7:57-8:11), and the testimony of the three heavenly witnesses to the Deity and incarnation of Jesus Christ, (1 John 5:7) are edited out, and scores of other deletions, interpolations, and changes are required in an ongoing attempt to get us back to the real text of the New Testament.

However, as Solomon stated it, there is no new thing under the sun, and Satan has been attacking the word of God ever since Adam and Eve were in the Garden. The Rev. Frederick Nolan published his defense of the Textus Receptus in 1815. At that time already these issues were known and the false theories of the textual critics refuted. Nolan was aware of the manuscripts and the theories of modern textual criticism and his thorough examination of their arguments and his competent defense of the Received Text are still as timely today as they were almost two centuries ago.

Nolan's work consists of 6 parts and they are listed below with the links to each section.


Puritan Board Freshman

So let's see...

Nolan wrote his treatise in 1815

Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in something like 1846...

The first papyri were discovered in 1897.....

P75 was discovered in 1955 (I believe).....the exact year doesn't really matter as it was LONG after 1815....

and Nolan somehow addressed manuscripts that were not even known at the time?

It amuses me how many people are interested in the OPINIONS of a man in 1815 (or for that matter today) that do not conform to ALL of the manuscript evidence.

Who preserved the papyri that buttress the newer versions?

God? If God should we not use them?

Satan? If Satan, he must be as powerful as God.


And how do you know?

Sir, if you want to use the KJV I think that's fantastic. If you want to use a newer translation based on the TR or the MT, I think that's fantastic.

I wonder why this is even an issue.


Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
But Bill,

Vaticanus (B) was known at that time, in fact, even Erasmus knew of its readings from a friend of his, Professor Paulus Bombasius at Rome, who sent him such variant readings as he wished, and a correspondent in 1533 sent him selected readings from it, seeking to persuade him of its superiority. (from Tregelles, On the Printed Text of the Greek Testament, p.22; Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, 4th ed. p. 138).

What Nolan sought to do, as those who have read him understand, was track down when and in what MSS the omissions in the Greek New Testament occurred.

The variant readings were well known in 1815, even though there were many MSS yet to be discovered. In 1657 Brian Walton published the London Polyglot, which contained a plethora of variants, and was intended to fatally assault the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura, and the text used by the Reformers. It was against this assault John Owen mightily labored and fought. And in which struggle the Reformed Confessions in part were formulated.

When you say, “It amuses me how many people are interested in the OPINIONS of a man in 1815 (or for that matter today) that do not conform to ALL of the manuscript evidence,” I must protest such cavalier treatment of a first-rank scholar! Perhaps you meant “opinions” in the high sense, as when the U.S. Supreme Court renders an opinion it carries the full weight of judicial law, though I think you meant it in the low sense, as being merely a personal thought or view, not based on relevant facts.

Nolan interacts with text-critic Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745-1812) and his theories of the text. Griesbach was the student of Johann Semler (1725-91), an opponent of Christianity who used his academic status to great advantage. The Unitarians of Griesbach’s day readily accepted Griesbach’s critical edition of the New Testament, but Bible-believing Christians rejected it.

In Nolan’s day there were 150,000 textual variants set against the Textus Receptus, and Nolan sought to unearth the history of the transmission of the Greek and Latin manuscripts from the 3rd and 4th centuries, looking minutely at texts that had Origen’s and Eusebius’ “signatures” on them, in order to search out these matters of the texts’ integrity. To call his scholarly work mere “opinions” is unworthy an impartial investigator into historical/textual data.

Writing in his Preface, he says of his inquiries into a certain time period and the state of the text then,

At two periods only could he perceive the possibility of the ecclesiastical tradition having been interrupted; during the ascendancy of the Arian party under Constantine, and on its suppression under the elder Theodosius. The destruction of the sacred books in the Dioclesian persecution, and the revisal of the sacred text by Eusebius, furnished an adequate solution of the greatest difficulty which arose, from the varieties in the copies of the original text, and of the translations which differ from the Greek Vulgate. (p. xii)​

He goes into minute historical and textual details that are most pertinent in the 21st century, for the variants he deals with – and that at their sources! – are some of the very ones we deal with today. It matters not there are new discoveries; they may add much to our understanding, but they do not necessarily detract from old discoveries. Nolan’s old discoveries are such that they remain most valuable to scholars at our present time.

Regarding P75, it was because the new information this papyrus supplied, and the paper Gordon Fee wrote on it and Origen, that I requested of you the essay, so I could check Nolan’s accuracy. I remember how once before you challenged me on a major point, and you were correct, and I had to concede that my views were wrong. I do not want to build on false information, and so I not only am open to new information, but actively seek it out. For who wants to build a house on sand?

Anyway, I am glad to be interacting with you again, as you do challenge me – which I value.

And just because something is “preserved” – exists – does not mean we should use it, or that it is good. Often we are presented with choices so as to exercise our judgment. There are many bad things which are “preserved”. God has not given us a sanitized world. We are in a world of mixed things, and we learn to discriminate and thus grow in both moral and intellectual discernment.

I am very interested in the papyri, and I seek to give them their due place.

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