Differences between the TR and the Majority Text

Often KJVO advocates will confuse the Textus Receptus with the Majority Text.  When called on it, they will inevitably say that there are no significant differences from the two.  In fact, many times, their position depends on the two of them being equal, because one of the underpinnings of KJVO is that “God has preserved His Word in the majority of Greek manuscripts.”

In actuality, there are 1,838 differences between the Majority Text and the TR (Daniel Wallace, Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text, http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=673).  Although most are considered to be minor, there are some huge differences such as the omission of entire verses or phrases.  Here’s two examples (the parts missing from the Majority Text are in bold):

  • I John 5:7-8 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
  • Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

David Cloud, lauded King James Only defender, lists some of the differences between the TR and the MT on this page, http://www.wayoflife.org/articles/majoritytext.htm.


15 thoughts on “Differences between the TR and the Majority Text

  1. Actually, most honest TR-only guys will agree with you. My father is one who even admits that if he got to heaven and found out 1 John 5:7-8 wasn’t in the Bible, he would not be surprised.

    The TR represents some rather disparate texts within the Majority.

    I am actually an odd bird when it comes to the Greek texts because I don’t buy the whole “textual families” argument. It is what I like to call a “dead German theory.” It is an idea some dead Germans came up with and everyone has just assumed is part of the facts without actually checking it.

  2. dan

    lets look at the facts,
    #1. as an example, (which you should only need one)
    Compare an NASB and KJV bible, look at Jude 25 and see if a KJV can keep up with the NASB. The KJV clearly omits Jesus Christ.
    –This is just one example.

    #2. Look at a facsimile of the original 1611 KJV bible.
    The translators clearly not only translated the apochrypha, but even included marginal references within scripture.
    If God inspired, why would God inspire them to do this.
    the true answer is to evaluate how someone translates scripture.
    is there not even factual evidence in the bible to conclude that God uses ungodly people to do his will?
    If 2 people translate the bible into a language, and both come up with the same translation, yet one of them was not a godly person, does that discredit their interpretation?

    Even the KJV tranlsators stated in their marginal notes that some verses, “is wanting in the majority of manuscripts” Wanting is lacking, in other words does not exist! Some references include that it came from a minority text.

    #3. You have to look at the intent of the words used within an english translation. There is also a difference with the definitions of english words and greek/hebrew words. technically if you took a modern dictionary, and used it to interpret the words in a KJV, you would have an incorrect biblical interpretation.

    One failure of KJV onlyists is that they try and put a claim on what other versions mean. There is a difference between what a version means, and someone who preaches an incorrect doctrine. its not necessarily the bible version that is at fault, but the person doing the interpretation.

    I do not agree with modern translations because they are commentary bibles or meaning for word. But there are word for word translations which I would argue the KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB.

    1. dan, thanks for your thoughts, I think in a lot of ways you are right-on. Except at the end. I think the importance of “word-for-word” style translations are overblown. No translation is strictly “word-for-word”. E.g. the KJV translates “May it never be” as “God forbid”. I think it’s more important to give the reader an accurate representation of what the author is saying, above giving the reader an accurate representation of exactly what words are being used. I realize, that’s open to interpretation, of course.

      1. dan

        yes.. I would agree with that in context of translating one language into another in order to state was is said in the original language. However the “modern” translations out there today go beyond that.
        Secondly, We dont save people, its God, and his word, we should let His words speak to them.
        Thirdly, when making commentary translations, you can fall into error when the translator’s theology is off.

        the Greek and Hebrew languages are not open to interpretations. The sentance structures and word usage are very clear. There is no reason for creating a bible that is not word for word accurate.
        Yes, there may be mutliple words that can be used to express something accurately. (Which requires study/ meditation on the word to seek what God meant)
        Its one thing to write a book for that purpose… but to think that your words are better than God’s?

        …Yes, there are “alternate” renderings when translating words into one langauge from another. But that is way different then making a commentary/ statement/ re-writing God’s word, and calling it the bible.

      2. dan

        I think we are saying the same thing here…possibly… But Christians should not be open to interpretation… we should be open to God’s truth only.

        “Interpretation is the responsibility of the Author, not the reader”

  3. I think, again, you are right on when you say that some modern versions go beyond the point of merely translating. Usually, they are pretty clear about their intentions. I don’t think interpretation is so cut-and-dry, though. Although it is true that the original language means one specific thing, our ability to understand that meaning depends on the factors that are involved in the way we interpret language–this is why there is so much disagreement among theologians on almost every aspect of theology.

    1. Robert, I admit I only watched a few minutes into your video, but your point seemed to be that if the 3,000 or so differences in the main Alexandrian texts are acceptable to textual critics, then why are they getting so upset about the 1,800 or so between the TR and MT? The reason those 1,800 are such an issue is that the group that claims that they are for “word-for-word” preservation/translation of the Bible don’t even realize that the arguments they make are undermined by this fact. It’s not a concern of the textual critic so much on its own merit.

      1. Robert

        Thank you for your reply. However, the argumentation used by Mr. Kurscher in the article which I cited does not make the argument that you are claiming. Mr. Kurschner writes that because there are 1,838 differences between the TR and the MT that they cannot be considered to be in the same text family. Also, there are some, like me, who hold to a word-for-word preservation that is different from the main KJO group. We hold that the infallible and inspired Word of the living God can be found in the copies we have today, and not the collations such as the TR, MT or CT. Thus, the collations can be corrected though the copies by a due use of ordinary means. Based on the above two observations it does not seem fair and reasonable to attack the TR or MT using the type of argumentation that you have provided. Blessings in Jesus, Rob.

      2. Hi, Robert, I can’t really comment on Kurscher’s article. My response was more of a reaction to how you had characterized James White’s arguments on the Ankerberg show. I’m still a little confused on whether you had responded to my original blog post, a comment, or some video–but I never attacked the MT or TR–only the idea that they are the same thing as put forward by those whom you might refer to as the word-for-word preservationist in the “main KJO group”.

  4. Robert

    Thank you Dan. You wrote “Often KJVO advocates will confuse the Majority Text with the Textus Receptus…” I have never read anywhere in the KJO literature where they do such a thing. Nevertheless, you make the standard argument, very clearly I observe, that because there are 1,838 differences between the MT and TR they then cannot be equated. If such is the case, then my point about the 3,000 differences between Aleph and B in the gospels alone should require you to question whether or not they belong together. That is, taking the form of argument that you are making. You also write, “God has preserved His Word in the majority of Greek manuscripts.” However, this is not a KJO argument, but is more often argued by the MT scholars. Blessings, Rob

  5. If I understand your article, then you are saying that the differences between the MT and TR (1,838) are vast enough that the cannot be equated in any sense of the word. They cannot be put in the same text-type nor are they in the same family. You state that the TR cannot claim to be in the majority because of these differences. This is the same argument that Dr. White made on the Ankerberg show, and it is the same argument that Mr. Kurschner has made. I show this argument to be fallacious for two reasons: 1) it is not applied by Dr. White, Mr. Kurschner nor you to your own text type. And, 2) it does not mathematically work. Blessings, Rob

    1. “If I understand your article…”

      It doesn’t seem that you do. You keep mentioning the “argument I am making”, but I don’t see any evidence that you in any way understand my point. Let me rephrase it as a syllogism for clarity:

      To be the same “word of God”, every word must be perfectly preserved with 100% accuracy.
      There are over 1,800 differences between the MT and TR.
      Therefore, either the MT or the TR is not the word of God.

      The KJVO position I am talking about accepts the first premise as truth, and that is why I (and I presume Dr. White) points this out. He is arguing on the Ankerberg show with Sam Gipp, who would accept the first premise (again, I presume). Since neither I nor Dr. White would accept the first premise, your arguments involving the differences between Aleph and B misses the point entirely.

      You say in your comment from November 7, “I have never read anywhere in the KJO literature where they do such a thing.” Please scroll up the page to comment #2 where I quote a KJVO author saying this exact thing. Unfortunately, the link is dead, but that is the risk you take when commenting on a blog post of someone’s personal blog that they don’t post to anymore that is from over 5 years ago.

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