Study No. 160 

Battle for the Bible

If you believe that the Pope is the vicar of Christ, the rightful successor of the apostles, then you will like the New International Version of the Bible. Currently, the NIV outsells all other English Bibles, including the venerable Authorized King James Version. It has been a struggle for centuries, but, finally, we have a dominant English Bible that supports Catholic doctrines. How did this happen?

Origen (A.D. 184-254), one of the most famous "Church fathers," was instrumental in editing manuscripts upon which the NIV, and all modern versions, are based. He tells us that he would not hand down Christian teachings, pure and unmixed, but rather clothed with the precepts of pagan philosophy. Adam Clarke says Origen was the first "Christian" teacher of purgatory. A pupil of the gnostic star worshipper Clement of Alexandria, Origin lightly esteemed the Bibleís historical basis. "The Scriptures," Origen maintained, " are of little use to those who understand them as they are written." Origen greatly influenced Eusebius (260-340), who produced fifty copies of a Latin version, at the behest of Emperor Constantine. Although Constantine is remembered for establishing Sunday worship and the Catholic Church as the state religion, his action in choosing Eusebiusí rendition of Origenís Bible was perhaps more important. Modern versions are based on the Vaticanus Manuscript (Codex B), and the Sinaiticus Manuscript (Codex Aleph), which are of the Eusebio-Origen type. Many authorities believe they were actually two of the fifty Constantine Bibles.

The Bishop of Rome needed a Bible version to keep the newly-converted pagans from northern Europe submissive to such doctrines as papal supremacy, transubstantiation, purgatory, celibacy of the priesthood, vigils, worship of relics, and the burning of daylight candles. Therefore, he turned to Jerome, a renowned scholar, to produce the authoritative Catholic Latin Bible. Jerome perused the library of Eusebius at Caesarea, where Origenís manuscripts had been preserved, along with a Greek Bible of the Vaticanus type. Both of these versions had the apocrypha, which Protestants reject as spurious (Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, 1st and 2nd Maccabees). Jerome, however, included them in his Vulgate of A.D. 338. For one thousand years, Jeromeís Vulgate dominated Western Europe. Only the pesky Waldenses in the Alps, and the original Celtic Church of Britain, rejected the Vulgate. Even Catholic scholars pointed out the thousands of errors in the corrupt Vulgate, but there were few to challenge the Catholic Bible of Jerome.

When the Turks took Constantinople in 1453, Greek Orthodox scholars fled with copies of the original Greek New Testaments, and some of them came into Europe. Erasmus (1516) and other scholars such as Stephens (1550) printed copies of the Greek New Testament, and it became obvious that the Vulgate, based on corrupted Greek texts of the Vaticanus order, had strayed far from the Received Text.

Luther, Calvin, and the Protestant Movement had engulfed northern Europe, and threatened to take France and even parts of Italy away from the Papacy. Lutherís German Bible was based on the same Greek Text printed by Erasmus. The Catholic Church was running scared, and launched a massive counter reformation. First, the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, was formed with the express purpose to destroy Protestants and their Bibles based on the Received Text. Jesuits were, and are, bound with an oath to defend the papacy, to lie, steal, assassinate, or do whatever it takes to destroy heretics. The famous Council of Trent, 1545-1563, condemned four anti-Catholic principles which were gaining ground at that time: (1) "That Holy Scriptures contained all things necessary for salvation, and that it was impious to place apostolic tradition on a level with Scripture," (2) "That certain books accepted as canonical in the Vulgate were apocryphal and not canonical," (3) "That Scripture must be studied in the original languages, and that there were errors in the Vulgate," and (4) "That the meaning of Scripture is plain, and that it can be understood without commentary with the help of Christís Spirit." The Catholic Church first tried to undermine, Bible, then destroy the Protestant doctrines. The Catholic-Protestant controversy was basically a battle for the Bible.

William Tyndale translated Erasmusís Greek Text into English. To counter this version, the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church sponsored the 1582 Rheims-Douay version, based on the Vulgate, in order to push Catholic control of the British Isles. In spite of the Spanish Armada and infiltrating Jesuits, English Protestantism stood firm against the wiles of Rome. A more readable English translation appeared in 1611, at the behest of King James. It has been called the most beautiful piece of literature in any language, and for 300 years served as a bulwark against the papacy.

When Napoleonís armies conquered Rome in the early 1800s, it appeared that the Holy Roman Empire and the power of the papacy was dead. In reality, it was only wounded, and would soon come back to life. Again, the battle for the Bible would be the key struggle.

J.H. Newman founded the Oxford Movement in 1833. Originally of the Church of England, Newman promoted Catholic ideas within the Anglican Church. Newmanís Roman theology took over Oxford, the bastion of the Anglican Church. When he traveled to Rome in 1833, he asked the Pope upon what terms the Church of Rome could receive back the Church of England to her bosom. The answer was: accept the doctrine of the Council of Trent! Newman and his associates believed that Protestantism, not Catholicism, was the Antichrist. Newmanís enormous influence in Britain led many to doubt the veracity of the Authorized Bible, as he preferred the Vulgate. Using the allegorizing method of Origen, Newman declared that God never intended the Bible to teach doctrines, and that Church tradition was equal to or better than the Bible. Newman studied Catholic fathers and gnostics night and day. In 1845 he left the Anglican Church to become a Catholic Cardinal.

Cardinal Newman greatly influenced the British revision committees, which were packed with higher critics and Catholic- leaning individuals such as Westcott, Hort, and others. Westcottís Greek New Testament was based upon the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus texts. Dr. Philip Schaff, who headed the American Bible revision committee, was a friend of Newman, and was on such good terms with the papacy that he sought and obtained unusual privileges to study Vatican documents, receiving almost unrestricted access to the Vatican Library and Archives. As a result, the 1881 Revised English Version was met with rejoicing among Catholics, as a vindication of their Rheims-Douay version based on the Vulgate. Blow after blow, the new English version supported the doctrines of Rome.

An example is Revelation 22:14. In the King James, this verse is, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life," while the Revised version says, "Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life." The New International Version likewise used "wash their robes," rather than "do His commandments."

Another example is Mark 7:18-19. In the King James, we have, "Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?" The bodily digestive system digests food, using nutrients for the body, and eliminates the waste products. Food does not pollute the mind.

In their attack against the law of clean and unclean meats, the Revised and NIV translations, based on minority Greek texts, translate this passage so as to do away with Godís law. "ĎAre you so dull?í he asked. ĎDonít you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him "unclean"? For it doesnít go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.í (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods Ďcleaní)," Mark 7:18-19, NIV.

Translation after translation has since followed. All packed in favor of the corrupt texts from Origen and others who had mangled the Word of God. Now the field of victory belongs to the Catholic Church.

There are actually only two types of Bibles, those based on the majority of the Greek manuscripts, and those based on texts from Egypt and Rome. The early Syrian Church had the Bible translated into Syrian about A.D. 150. This version is known as the Peshitto (meaning "correct," or "simple"). Even today, it generally follows the Received Text. Early Latin translations of the Bible were used in the British Isles, northern Italy, and southern France, long before these primitive Christians came into contact with the Church of Rome. Called the "Italic" or Old Latin version, the Waldenses in particular resisted the Vulgate as being spurious. Until at least the late thirteenth century, the Waldensian version held out strongly against the Vulgate. The fourth century scholar Helvidius, of northern Italy, accused Jerome of using corrupt Greek manuscripts. Waldensians in the Alps claimed their church began about A.D. 120, and their Italic Bible was said to be translated directly from the Greek no later than A.D. 157. Allix reports that the Italic Church of the Waldenses receive only "what is written in the Old and New Testament. They say, that the Popes of Rome, and other priests, have depraved the Scriptures by their doctrines and glosses."

The promulgation of the Received Text is largely the work of the Waldenses. John Calvin was a relative to Waldenses in the valley of St. Martin. Olivetan, a Waldensian pastor, translated the Received Text into French, later edited by his relative Calvin. The Olivetan became the basis of the Geneva Bible in English, the leading version in England in 1611 when the KJV appeared.

The two-thousand-year-old contest between the Church of Rome and those she calls "heretics," is basically a battle for the Bible. When you see a church that abandons the King James Version and begins to uphold the New International Version or other modern perversions of the scriptures, you know which side they are on.

If you believe that the Pope is an Antichrist, and you are in absolute opposition to the Council of Trent, then you stand with the historic teaching of the Waldenses, and the Church of the East. You appreciate the King James Bible, and others based on the Received Text.

Benjamin G. Wilkinsonís excellent book, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, originally published in 1930, provides much of the information covered in this article. This special book is available from: Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, Mo 64849, for a donation of $6.00. Wilkinson shows how text after text has been perverted by the modern revised versions, which are based on corrupted Greek manuscripts. This is not a peripheral issue, but an essential core concept. If you believe modern higher critics, who believe in evolution as Hort did, then you do not have the reliable Word of God, and there is no basis for the Biblical faith.

The Bible says that the "little horn," would "cast down the truth to the ground," Daniel 8:11. Jesus said in John 17:17, "Thy word is truth." Modern translations which pervert the Word of God are a direct fulfillment of this prophecy. You do not need to go through a priest or hierarchy to have contact with the Almighty. The Savior reminds us, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life," John 6:63.

Peter Ruckman, a Baptist preacher, has in recent years created a twisted concept known as "King James Version Onlyism." He teaches that the KJV is error free, is the ONLY Word of God, and that all other translations are of the devil. He plays into the hands of Romanists by his absurd extremism. The King James does not always stick to the Textus Receptus. The KJV does have errors, some of which are corrected in modern versions such as the NIV (e.g. Acts 12:4, where the KJV erroneously has "Easter," while the NIV and modern versions, and the Textus Receptus, have "Passover"). The Battle for the Bible should stick to a discussion of the merits of the two competing streams of Greek texts of the New Testament: the Textus Receptus (majority Greek texts), and the Vaticanus/ Sinaiticus (Origen, Westcost and Hort) text.

Wilkinson provides many comparisons that leave us no doubt that the Textus Receptus is better.