Daily Archives: January 7, 2010

The History of the English Bible Part 5: Textus Receptus


Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

Today we are going to study the men who had a part in the formation of the Greek New

Robertus Stephanus (1503-1559)

Robertus Stephanus (1503-1559)

Testament known as the “Textus Receptus” or “Received Text” In the early sixteenth century a Dutch man named Desiderius Erasmus decided to publish the first printed Greek New Testament. Using 5 Greek manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate he set to work. Erasmus transcribed from the Greek using the different manuscripts to compare and figure out what was the correct verse. Were he did not have manuscripts he translated back from the Vulgate. One such instance of this is the last six verses of Revelation. The single manuscript of Revelation he had was missing those verses. He printed his first edition in 1514 dedicating it to Pope Leo X in hopes that he would be forgiven for not getting the proper approval.

Theodore Beza (1519-1605)

Theodore Beza (1519-1605)

It was called “Novum Instrumentum” or “the New Instrument” and contained parallel to the Greek a new Latin translation. Erasmus’ version quickly was attacked for what many felt were errors. One such error was the “Comma Johanneum” or Johannine Comma (1 John5:7-8 NIV, 1 John 5:7-8 KJV)(out of 5000 manuscripts with these verses only 5 contain the whole verse). He had left out a section of these verses and many asked why. He explained none of the Greek manuscripts contained these verses, so he felt they were added to the bible later. He also offered if anyone could come up with a manuscript that contained it he would add it. By his third revision, Codex Montfortianus showed up in Ireland. This was a suspected forgery since it came from an enemy of his but as he promised he included the verses in his third edition. Erasmus put out revision in 1516, 1519, and1522. Each of these contained annotations explaining why he chose certain words, added things or took away things that were not in the Vulgate.

After Erasmus Death Robertus Stephanus (1503-1559),also known as Robert Estienne took Erasmus’ work and further revised it in 1546, 1549, 1550,1551.

Theodore Beza (1519-1605) came next and created nine revisions. These works are what became the “Textus Receptus” and formed the basis for the KJV of 1611.