A History of the English Bible (Westcott)


  • Codex Sinaiticus was discovered by Constantin von Tischendorf, a German evolutionist theologian, at St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai. He discovered the first part in 1844 and the second part in 1859.
  • In the year 1844, while travelling under the patronage of Frederick Augustus King of Saxony, in quest of manuscripts, Tischendorf reached the Convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai. Here, observing some old-looking documents in a basketful of papers ready for lighting the stove, he picked them out, and discovered that they were forty-three vellum leaves of the Septuagint Version. Tischendorf described it, “I perceived a large and wide basket full of old parchments; and the librarian told me that two heaps like this had been already committed to the flames. What was my surprise to find amid this heap of papers…” (Narrative of the Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript, p. 23)
  • So, it certainly appears to me that the Orthodox monks evidently had long since decided that the numerous omissions and alterations in the manuscript had rendered it useless and had stored it away in some closet where it had remained unused for centuries. Yet Tischendorf promoted it widely and vigorously as representing a more accurate text than the thousands of manuscripts supporting the Textus Receptus. Furthermore, he assumed that it came from about the 4th century, but he never found any actual proof that it dated earlier than the 12th century.
  • Codex Siniaticus
    • The Sinaiticus was written by three different scribes and was corrected later by several others (14,800 corrections). Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener, who published A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus in 1864 testified: “The Codex is covered with alterations of an obviously correctional character—brought in by at least ten different revisers, some of them systematically spread over every page, others occasional, or limited to separate portions of the manuscript, many of these being contemporaneous with the first writer, but for the greater part belonging to the sixth or seventh century.” Thus, it is evident that scribes in bygone centuries did not consider the Sinaiticus worth keeping.
    • A great amount of carelessness is exhibited in the copying and correction. “Codex Sinaiticus ‘abounds with errors of the eye and pen to an extent not indeed unparalleled, but happily rather unusual in documents of first-rate importance.’ On many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through very carelessness. Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament.” (John Burgon, The Revision Revised)It is clear that the scribes who copied the Codex Sinaiticus were not faithful men of God who treated the Scriptures with utmost reverence. The total number of words omitted in the Sinaiticus in the Gospels alone is 3,455 compared with the Greek Received Text (Burgon, p. 75).
    • Mark 16:9-20 is omitted in the Codex Sinaiticus, but it was originally there and has been erased.
    • Codex Sinaiticus includes the apocryphal books (Esdras, Tobit, Judith, I and IV Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus) plus two heretical writings, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. The apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas is filled with heresies and fanciful allegorizing, claiming, for example, that Abraham knew Greek and baptism is necessary for salvation.
    • Lastly, Codex Sinaiticus (along with Codex Vaticanus), exhibits clear gnostic influence. In John 1:18 “the only begotten Son” is changed to “the only begotten God.”

Westcott’s ambition

  • 1861 Apr. 12th – Hort to Westcott: “Also – but this may be cowardice – I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms.” (Life, Vol.I, p.445).
  • 1870 Westcott and Hort print tentative edition of their Greek N.T. for private distribution only. (This they later circulated under pledge of secrecy within the company of N.T. revisers, of which they were members).
  • Feb. 10th – Southern Convocation of Church of England resolve on desirability of revision of A.V. Northern Convocation declines to cooperate.
  • May – Committee of 18 elected to produce a Revised Version.
  • The 7 members of the N.T. Committee invite 18 others, making 25.
  • Hort to Lightfoot: “It is, I think, difficult to measure the weight of acceptance won beforehand for the Revision by the single fact of our welcoming an Unitarian, if only the Company perseveres in its present serious and faithful spirit.” (Life, Vol.II, p.140). (Dr. G. Vance Smith, a Unitarian scholar, was a member of the Revision Committee. At Westcott’s suggestion, a celebration of Holy Communion was held on June 22nd before the first meeting of the N.T. Revision Company. Dr. Smith communicated but said afterwards that he did not join in reciting the Nicene Creed and did not compromise his principles as a Unitarian. The storm of public indignation which followed almost wrecked the Revision at the outset. At length however Dr. Smith remained on the Committee).
  • 1881 Bishop Ellicott submits the Revised Version to the Southern Convocation.
  • May 12th – Westcott and Hort’s “The New Testament in the Original Greek” Vol. I published (Text and short Introduction).
  • May 17th – the Revised Version is published in England, selling two million copies within four days. It fails however to gain lasting popular appeal.

This meeting with part of the Church of England priests would form the basis of the International Bible Society and the fundamental principles it would operate by.

Codex Vaticanus

  • This manuscript was “found” in 1481 in the Vatican library in Rome, where it is currently held, and from whence it received its name. It is written on expensive vellum, a fine parchment originally from the skin of calf or antelope. Some authorities claim that it was one of a batch of 50 Bibles ordered from Egypt by the Roman Emperor Constantine; hence its beautiful appearance and the expensive skins which were used for its pages. But alas! this manuscript, like its corrupt Egyptian partner Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) is also riddled with omissions, insertions and amendments.
  • The corrupt and unreliable nature of Codex B is best summed up by one who has thoroughly examined them, John W Burgon: “The impurity of the text exhibited by these codices is not a question of opinion but fact…In the Gospels alone, Codex B(Vatican) leaves out words or whole clauses no less than 1,491 times. It bears traces of careless transcriptions on every page…” 
  • According to The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, “It should be noted . . . that there is no prominent Biblical (manuscripts) in which there occur such gross cases of misspelling, faulty grammar, and omission, as in (Codex) B.
  • Consider these facts and oddities relating to the Codex Vaticanus:
    • The entire manuscript has been mutilated…every letter has been run over with a pen, making exact identification of many of the characters impossible.
    • In the Gospels it leaves out 749 entire sentences and 452 clauses, plus 237 other words, all of which are found in hundreds of other Greek manuscripts. The total number of words omitted in Codex B in the Gospels alone is 2,877 as compared with the majority of manuscripts (Burgon, The Revision Revised, p. 75).
    • Vaticanus omits Mark 16:9-20, but a blank space is left for that section of Scripture.
    • Similar to Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus identifies itself as a product of gnostic corruption in John 1:18, where “the only begotten Son” is changed to “the only begotten God.”
    • Linguistic scholars have observed that Codex Vaticanus is reminiscent of classical and Platonic Greek, not Koine Greek of the New Testament (see Adolf Deissman’s Light of the Ancient East). Nestle admitted that he had to change his Greek text (when using Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) to make it “appear” like Koine Greek.
    • Codex Vaticanus contains the false Roman Catholic apocryphal books such as Judith, Tobias, and Baruch, while it omits the pastoral epistles (I Timothy through Titus), the Book of Revelation, and it cuts off the Book of Hebrews at Hebrews 9:14 (a very convenient stopping point for the Catholic Church, since God forbids their priesthood in Hebrews 10 and exposes the mass as totally useless as well!).

Why not the KJV?

  • Good for 300 years before it was questioned
  • God blessed book in every genuine English speaking revival in history (Whitefield, Wesley, Finney, Spurgeon, Sam Jones, Bob Jones, Moody, Frank Norris, Roloff, Sunday, Talmage, Booth, etc)
  • Not owned by anyone, no royalties.
  • Manuscript evidence vindicates the KJV
    • Antiquity as a test of truth
    • Numbers as a test of truth – Psalms 68:11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
    • Variety as a test of truth – Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
    • Respectability or weight as a test of truth
    • Continuity as a test of truth
    • Context as a test of truth
    • Internal evidence as a test of truthSo what was the turning point in 1881?
Isa 9:3 KJV Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy… Isa 9:3 NIV You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy…
Psa 10:5 KJV His ways are always grievous… Psa 10:5 NIV His ways are always prosperous…
Pro 26:22 KJV The words of a talebearer are as wounds… Pro 26:22 NIV The words of a gossip are like choice morsels…
Mat 5:22 KJV But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment… Mat 5:22 NIV But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment…
1Co 1:18 KJV For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1Co 1:18 NIV For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1Jo 5:7 KJV For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 1Jo 5:7 NIV For there are three that testify:


  • Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14
  • Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, 15:28, and last 12 verses in Mark 16
  • Luke 17:36, 23:17
  • John 5:4
  • Acts 8:37, 15:34, 24:7, 28:29
  • Romans 16:24

Not Easier to Read

  • Ephesians 4:15-16 – joint changed to “supporting ligament” – easier to understand?
  • Changes in modern versions that don’t update anything: Leviticus 11:30 snail to skink, hell to hades almost every time, Ezekiel 31:4 river to rivulets, 1 Samuel 13:21 file to pim, Acts 27:17 quicksand to Syrtis sands

Doctrines attacked in modern versions that they’ve inherited from the corrupt manuscripts (“As long as no doctrine is affected”)

  • Lie found in Mark 1:2 – as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way –  This is not found in Isaiah, it’s in Malachi 3:1.
  • Deity of Christ: 1 Timothy 3:16 “God” changed to “he”, John 3:16 “one and only son” (which is a lie) in line with 1 John 4:3 and the spirit of antichrist
  • Virgin birth: Luke 2:33 “the child’s father” is said to be Joseph
  • Redemption: Colossians 1:14: “through his blood” is deleted
  • Baptism: Acts 8:37 Verse omitted
  • Isaiah 14:12 & Revelation 22:16 in an NIV Jesus Christ and the Devil are the same person – “the morning star”