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how we received our bible
















God will expend the exact same effort in accomplishing for His Word His purposes as He did in inspiring It.


Here is a brief chronology of how we got the Bible (some information compiled by Philip W. Comfort):


B.C. 1400--400 (about) = The Books of the Hebrew Old Testament are written.


B.C. 250--200 = The Septuagint (known as the LXX) is written, which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced in Alexandrea, Egypt.


45 A.D.--85 A.D. (About) = The Books of the Greek New Testament are written.


90 A.D. and 118 A.D. = The Councils of Jamnia give final affirmation to the Old Testament Canon (39 Books).


140 A.D.--150 A.D. = Marcion’s heretical New Testament incites orthodox Christians to establish a New Testament Canon.


150 A.D. = The Itala Bible.  Thought to be the original first Bible to contain both the Old and New Testaments into one complete Bible; and derived from the original Manuscripts.  Incorporated into this Bible was the Tanach and the Hebrew Gospels.  This was the Bible that was protected by the Waldensians through the Dark Ages -- the one that they died for.


170 A.D. = The Muratorian Canon was the first “Canon” compiled, which included all of the New Testament Books, except Hebrews, James, and Third John.


303 A.D.--306 A.D. = Diocletian’s persecution includes confiscating and destroying the New Testament Scriptures.


[280? or 290?] 305 A.D.--310 A.D. = Lucian of Antioch writes the Greek New Testament text which becomes a foundation for later Bibles.  From this Bible we have what is known as the “Received Text;” from which ALL authoritative Bibles are translated from.


367 A.D. = Athanasius’s Festal Letter lists the complete New Testament Canon (27 Books) for the first time.


397 A.D. = Council of Carthage establishes orthodox New Testament Canon (27 Books).


400 A.D. = Jerome translates the Bible into Latin, later called the “Vulgate,” which becomes the standard Bible of the Medieval Church.


363 A.D. = The Council of Laodicea concluded that only the Old Testament, along with the Apocrypha and the 27 Books of the New Testament were to be read in the churches.


393 A.D. = The Council of Hippo reaffirm the 27 Books of the New Testament as authoritative.


397 A.D. = The Council of Carthage also reaffirms the 27 Books of the New Testament as authoritative.


English Versions From The Latin:


650 A.D. = Caedmon, a monk, puts The Bible Books into verses.


735 A.D. = Historian Bede translates the Gospels into Old English.


871 A.D.--899 A.D. = King Alfred the Great translates the Psalms and the Ten Commandments into English.


950 A.D. = The 7th-Century Lindisfarne Gospels are translated into English.


955 A.D.--1020 A.D. = Aelfric translates various Bible Books for the first time from Latin into the vernacular (Old English).


1325 A.D. = Both Richard Rolle and William Shoreham translate The Book of the Psalms into “Metrical Verse.”


1380 A.D.--1382 A.D. = John Wycliffe and associates make the first translation of the entire Bible into English.


1388 A.D. = John Purvey revises John Wycliffe’s Bible.


1455 A.D. = Gutenberg’s Latin Bible is the first Bible to come off of the printing press.


1516 A.D. = Erasmus publishes his Erasmus’s Greek New Testament (this is what became to be called the Textus Receptus used by the 1611 A.D. KJV translators).  The Textus Receptus is the Latin Received Text.


1525 A.D. - 1535 A.D. = William Tyndale makes the first translation of the New Testament into what was then, modern English.  Keep in mind, that Erasmus only had about 6 to 10 Manuscripts to work with at the time, for his Greek translation of the New Testament.  It must be pointed out that although Erasmus only used these few manuscripts that he had available to him in Beisel during the compilation of his 1st edition, which took him 2 years to complete, I do not know of any scholar who has properly studied this subject who would claim that Erasmus had only been exposed to these few manuscripts during his life before engaging on this translation.


Erasmus himself admitted that there were errors in his first edition and that it had been rushed.  Erasmus however, would go on to edit his own work no less than four more times, where Erasmus addressed many of the mistakes and issues of his first edition.  These editions were completed in 1519, 1522, 1527 and 1535 A.D.


1534 A.D. = William Tyndale, wanted to make a translation in English that would be available for anyone; specifically the common populous.  He used the Greek text of Erasmus to make a translation of the entire Bible into English in 1534 A.D.  Tyndale’s words were considered so well translated that approximately 70% of the words that are found in the KJV New Testament are taken from his translation.


1546 A.D. - 1551 A.D. = The work of Erasmus was continued by Robert Estienne; probably better known as Stephanus.  He himself produced four editions of the Textus Receptus in 1546, 1549, 1550, and finally in 1551 A.D.


1565 A.D. - 1604 A.D. = Stephanus was followed Theodore Beza, who also updated the Textus Receptus a total of 9 times between 1565 and 1604 A.D.  And many argue that these updated versions of the Textus Receptus were done with much more care and attention than the first edition of Erasmus (that would go without saying).


1611 A.D. = The King James Version is released.  Along with all the documents, transcripts, manuscripts, Codex’s, etcetera, the KJV translators also had access to the Complutensian Polyglot; the name given to the first printed polyglot of the entire Bible, initiated and financed by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez De Cisneros (1436–1517) and published by Complutense University in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.


Note:  The Complutensian Polyglot was the first and best-known polyglot Bible in which the text was presented in several languages in adjacent columns.  It presented the Old Testament in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin; and the New Testament in Greek and Latin.  The work was published in 1521 or 1522.


Furthermore, the KJV translators also had available to them, but not limited to, the Bibles of Myles Coverdale (The Coverdale Bible; 1535), John Roger’s Matthew’s (The Matthew’s Bible; 1537), The Great Bible (1539), by Richard Tavener, the Geneva Bible (1560) and the Bishops Bible (1568), which was revised both in 1572 and 1602 A.D.  The translators also had the Roman Catholic readings as found in the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; as they had use of the Rheims-Douai (Douay–Rheim) 1582 A.D.  They of course also had the Latin Vulgate to refer to as well.


Note:  That the Roman Catholic influence is in the KJV is recognizable and therefore some corrections need to be made to the translation.  However, with over 400 years of attack and critique, every error appears to have been exposed; and with the right commentary one can have the KJV as the best translation out there.  See my Bible Study:  “BIBLE, VERSIONS WE SHOULD AVOID.”





It is generally accepted that the portion of the Bible that we commonly call the Old Testament was completed in the days of Ezra the Priest in about B.C. 420.  In regards to the New Testament, the first century Jewish historian and priest, Flavius Josephus (37-100 A.D.), recorded the history of the Hebrew Scriptures and contrasted them to the Greek writings extant in his day.  He states:  “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only 22 books. . . which are justly believed to be Divine.”  Against Apion, 1, 8.  Josephus mentioned the corresponding Books of our accepted 39 Books in his day as 22 Books.






The word “Bible,” is the English form of the Greek name “Biblia,” which is a diminutive from, “biblos,” which was exported from the ancient Phoenician port city of “Biblos,” and was from the inner bark of the papyrus, which was the material used in ancient times like we use paper today.  “Biblia” simply meant “books,” the name which in the Fifth Century began to be given to the entire collection of Sacred Books (see the “Library of Divine Revelation”).  However, “Biblia” is a plural term, which better stresses the fact that the Bible is a collection of Books.  The fact that the word “Biblia” came to be used in the singular, emphasizes another fact, that behind these many Books comprising the Bible there lies a wonderful unity.


The name “Bible” was adopted by Wickliffe, and came gradually into use in our English language.  From Westcott, Bible in the Church, 5, we read:  “In process of time this name, with many others of Greek origin, passed into the vocabulary of the western church; and in the 13th century, by a happy solecism, the neuter plural came to be regarded as a feminine singular, and ‘The Books’ became by common consent ‘The Book’ (biblia, singular), in which form the word was passed into the languages of modern Europe.”


The word “Testament,” literally means “a will,” which was translated from the Greek word, “diatheke” (Latin, “testamentum”), and in the New Testament it is employed to translate the Hebrew word, “berith,” and thus in the same manner means, “a covenant.”  Applied to the Scriptures, therefore, “Old Testament” and “New Testament” mean strictly, “Old Covenant” and “New Covenant.”


The name is a continuation of the Old Testament designation for the Law, such as, “the Book of the Covenant,” in Second Kings 23:2.  In this sense Paul applies it to the Old Testament Law; “the reading of the Old Testament,” Second Corinthians 3:14.  When, after the middle of the 2nd Century, a definite collection began to be made of the Christian writings, these were named, “the New Testament,” and were placed as of equal authority alongside the “Old Testament.”  The name, “Novum Testamentum” (also “Instrumentum”), occurs first in the writings of Tertullian (190 A.D. -- 220 A.D.), and soon came into general use.  The idea of a Christian Bible may be then said to be complete.






The Bible was written over a period of about 1,600 years (B.C. 1500 -- 100 A.D.), with a break of 400 years between the Old and New Testament (in writing only; not in prophecy; see Daniel, Chapter Eleven); written by about more than 40 different authors (about 32 or more in the Old; and 8 or more in the New).


The Old Testament is well known to be written mostly in Hebrew.  The parts of the Old Testament not written in Hebrew, are namely, Ezra 4:8 through 6:18; Ezra 7:12-26; Jeremiah 10:11; Daniel 2:4 through 7:28, which are written in Aramaic (the so-called Chaldee), a related dialect, which, after the Exile, gradually displaced Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews.  The ancient Hebrew text was “unpointed,” i.e., without the vowel-marks now in use.  These are due to the labors of the Masoretic scholars (after the 6th Century A.D.).


The New Testament is written wholly in Greek, which was “koine Greek,” or the common “street language” of the Greek -- that which was used in homes or the marketplaces.  Roman Catholics regard seven additional books (the Apocrypha) as being Canonical, but these come from the questionable LXX written in Alexandria, Egypt, and are rejected by any reputable Protestant.  The argument that the LXX Greek texts are “older” does not hold water if they contain corruptions now does it?  The pure facts are that, “no” original copies or autographs exist of them.  It is also to be remembered that “Targums” are not literal translations, but rather paraphrases, or interpretations of the original.






The “acknowledged” Books of the New Testament present little difficulty.  The New Testament consists of 27 documents written between 40 A.D. and 100 A.D.  They are enumerated by Eusebius, whose statements are confirmed by early lists (e.g., that of Muratori, 170 A.D.).  The “disputed” Books of the New Testament were the Epistles of James, Jude, Second and Third John, and Second Peter.  These, however, do not all stand in the same rank as regards authentication.


A chief difficulty is the silence of the western Fathers regarding James, Second Peter and Third John.  On the other hand, the Book of James was known to Origen and is included in the Syriac Peshitta; and the Muratorian Fragment attests to the Books of Jude and Second John.  The weakest in attestation is the Book of Second Peter, which is not distinctly traceable before the 3rd Century.  The complete acceptance of all the Books in our present New Testament Canon may be dated from the “Councils of Laodicea” (circa 363 A.D.) and of “Carthage” (397 A.D.), confirming the lists of Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome and Augustine.


A Note On Second Peter (From my Bible Commentary):  “The genuineness of this Second Epistle was at first questioned, in that it found no place in the catalogues of the New Testament Scriptures of the 2nd and 3rd Centuries.  The first Church employing it was at Alexandria, but subsequently the Church at large became satisfied from internal evidence of its genuineness and inspiration, and when the Canon was pronounced complete in the 4th Century, It was without hesitancy received.  To reject this Book is to also reject the entire Book of Jude, which is basically so similar to Chapter Two of this Epistle that you would believe them to be written by the same author (Divine comes to my mind).”


The most important, and generally the most reliable witnesses to the Hebrew, are the Masoretic Texts; those produced by Hebrew scholars (called the “Masoretes”), who assumed the task of faithfully copying and transmitting the Bible.  These scholars, active from the early Christian Centuries into the Middle Ages, also provided the text with punctuation, vowel points (the original of the Hebrew text contains only consonants), and various notes.  The standard printed Hebrew Bible in use today is a reproduction of a Masoretic Text, written in 1088 A.D.






From Christ to 100 A.D. all the original Manuscripts were used.  By 170 A.D., 20 New Testament Books had been accepted by the early Christians.  By 400 A.D. all 27 Books of the New Testament were accepted.  From 452 A.D. through 1453 A.D., the “Textus Receptus” was used by the Greek Church.  In 1516 A.D., Erasmus edited the first printing of the Greek New Testament.  This was in agreement with the Textus Receptus.  In 1526 A.D., Tyndale’s New Testament in English was printed.  Next, in 1550 A.D., Stephens Greek New Testament came on the scene; which also followed the Textus Receptus.  Lastly, in 1611 A.D., The King James Version, or Authorized Version, was translated from the Greek, Textus Receptus.


From 1611 A.D. to 1881 A.D., or rather, from 312 A.D. to 1881 A.D., the only accepted source for the world’s authorized Bible was the Byzantine Text (i.e., the Textus Receptus).  In addition to these Greek sources, scholars have recovered copies of ancient translations in Hebrew, Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Gothic and many others; some of which originated before our oldest existing Greek copies, and thus testify to the contents of still earlier Manuscripts and the spread of Christianity beyond the regions where Greek prevailed.  The great weight of this evidence is favorable to what is now called the Byzantine, or Received, or Traditional Text (meaning, the Textus Receptus).


The Old Testament comes to us from the Latin word for “covenant.”  What we have today is the same one that the Jews possess.  It was also used by Christ and His apostles.  This can be ascertained by the character and contents of the Jewish Bible.  Apart from references in the New Testament Itself, an important aid is here afforded by a passage from Josephus, in Apion, I, 8, which may be taken to represent the current belief of the Jews in the 1st Century A.D.  After speaking of the prophets as writing their histories “through the inspiration of God,” Josephus states:  “For we have not myriads of discordant and conflicting books, but 22 only, comprising the record of all time, and justly accredited as Divine.”






Thus, we come to the Masoretic Text, which is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the “Tanakh,” which comes to us from Rabbinic Judaism.  It was primarily copied, edited, and distributed by a group of Jews known as the ”Masoretes” between the 7th and 10 Centuries B.C.  In Hebrew, “Masoretic” is “Masora,” or “Masorva,” and literally means, “Transmitted.”  And Paul teaches this when he states that “unto them {the Jews} were committed the oracles {transmitted Word} of God.”  Romans 3:2.  And these “oracles” were “transmitted” amongst the Jews even after the time of Paul.  Therefore, when you open up your Bible and you go through the Old Testament, you are literally reading the Masoretic Text; or better, the “Transmitted Word Of God.”


Today it is admitted that the most accurate Manuscript that we have is the Masoretic Text; called the “Aleppo Codex.”  It is the oldest existent Manuscript known to us of the “complete” Hebrew Bible and It is known as the most accurate Bible in the world.  It comes to us from a system of vocalization with cantillation marks (which serve as punctuation), with a tradition of alternate readings, making it the most highly prized Hebrew Manuscript.  Known to Jews as the “Keter,” it was written by a scribe by the name of “Salomon, the son of Wia’s,” and edited by Aaron Ben Asher, in about the year 924 A.D.  In fact, if you want to make or publish a Bible, you must first check your work against the “Aleppo Codex.”


A little history.  After It was written in Aleppo, It was taken to Jerusalem and put in a Karaite Synagogue.  When the Crusaders came (first crusade of three) from June 7th thru July 15, 1099 A.D., they killed many Muslims and Jews, destroying the Karaite Synagogue by fire with the Jews inside.  However, they kept the Manuscripts as war booty so that they could ransom Them.  They eventually ransomed them to the Jews of Cairo, Egypt.  100 years later, Maimonides, the great Jewish “Torah” scholar, wrote concerning the Aleppo Codex, “everyone relies upon it to proof read their manuscripts.”  In other words, if you make a translation of the Bible, you go to the “Aleppo Codex” first and check your work against It.  In other words again, if your [per] version of the Bible [perversions are any Bible translated after 1888 A.D.] has not been checked against the “Aleppo Codex,” then your [per] version is subject to being a man-made concoction.






Now this is interesting.  If we look into the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are actually five different Manuscripts represented in them.  One of them is called the Proto Masoretic Manuscript.  Essentially, this means that it is an identical copy of the Aleppo Codex.  All of the Dead Sea Scrolls that are not from Kamron are Proto Masoretic Scrolls.  Inside the “Kamron” works you find all five types, but outside you only find the Proto Masoretic types (with only one or two exceptions).


In the Temple courtyard the Jews had three copies of the Bible.  These were called “The Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.”  Scribes would come from all over the world (this is during the time when Jesus was walking around in the Temple) to Jerusalem, to the Temple, where Jesus was a few feet away from them, and they would ask the Scribes of these “Temple Courtyard Manuscripts” to check their Manuscripts that they had brought with them, to see if they needed to be corrected from the authority of “The Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.”  And we have these Manuscripts, in the Jerusalem Museum with us to this very day.  In other words, the Bible that we have today is the same Bible that JESUS READ!!!  Does God protect His Word?






Of these 22 Old Testament Books, “five” are the Books of Moses, which embrace the Laws and the traditions of mankind until his own death; a period of almost 3,000 years.  From the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, the successor of Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets who followed Moses narrated the events of their time in 13 Books.  The remaining “four” Books consist of hymns to God, and maxims of conduct for men.  From Artaxerxes to our own age, the history has been written in detail, but it is not esteemed worthy of the same credit, on account of the exact succession of the prophets having been no longer maintained.


Josephus goes on to declare that, in this long interval, “no one has dared either to add anything to (the writings), or to take anything from them, or to alter anything,” and speaks of them as “the decrees (dogmata) of God,” Apion, I, 8, for which the Jews would willingly die.


Philo (B.C. 20 -- 50 A.D.) uses similar strong language about the Law of Moses (in Eusebius, Pr. Ev., VIII, 6).  In this enumeration of Josephus, it will be seen that the Jewish sacred Books -- 39 in our Bible -- are reckoned as 22 (after the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet), namely, “five” of the Law (called the Torah), 13 of the prophets and the “four” remaining Books.  These last four are the Books of Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastics.


The middle class includes all the historical and prophetical Books, likewise Job, and the reduction in the number from 30 to 13 is explained by Books deemed as one, i.e., Judges-Ruth, one Book, First and Second Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, one Book, Ezra-Nehemiah, one Book, Jeremiah-Lamentations, one Book, and the 12 Minor Prophets, one Book.  In his 22 books, therefore, Josephus includes all those in the present Hebrew Canon, and none besides; not even the books known as the “Apocrypha,” though he was acquainted with and used some of these.  It is therefore highly significant that, although the writers of the New Testament were familiar with the Septuagint, which contained the Apocrypha, no quotation from any book of the Apocrypha occurs in their pages.


The division of the Bible into Chapters and Verses was designed to facilitate easy reference to It so that others could be in compliance as to which place it was you were referring to.  The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain sections for use in the Synagogue service, and then at a later period, in the Ninth Century A.D., into verses.  Our modern system of Chapters for all the Books of the Bible was introduced by Cardinal Hugo, about the middle of the Thirteenth Century (he died in 1263 A.D.).


However, the Bible was first divided into Chapters by Stephen Langton, in about 1228 A.D.  The Old Testament was divided into Verses by R. Nathan, in 1448 A.D.  The New Testament was introduced and divided into Verses by Robert Stephanus, in 1551 A.D.  It was generally adopted, although neither Tyndale’s, nor Coverdale’s English Translation of the Bible had any divided Verses.  The entire Bible first appeared divided into Chapters and Verses in 1560 A.D., via the “Geneva Bible.”






The KJV comes to us from over 5,000 Manuscripts, 170 Papyrus fragments (2nd to 7th Century); 212 Uncials (capital letter) copies (4th to 10th Centuries); 2,429 Minuscules (smaller script), (9th to 16th Centuries); and 1,678 Lectionary copies.


However, the new versions (new version = any Bible after 1888 A.D.; see my Bible Study:  “BIBLE, THE MAKING OF THE”) come from a fraction of 1% of the extant Manuscripts, and that from one geographical area -- Alexandria, Egypt.  The Greek Vulgate, or Majority Text (which is the one used by the KJV and others before 1888 A.D.), comes from Manuscripts from Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, Alexandria, Africa, Gaul, South Italy, Sicily, England and Ireland.


In addition, the Second and Third Century Papyri, which are in agreement with the Majority Text Manuscripts, show that the KJV text-type dominated the early Church.  Codex W (4th Century) and Codex A (5th Century), the Gothic Version (4th century), and the Peshitta Syriac (now dated much earlier than the 5th Century), also agree with the KJV.  Note:  Codex stands for, “Book Form.”


Of the four Uncials, Aleph, B, C and D, which todays new [per-] versions are based upon, Burgon writes:  “All four are discovered on careful scrutiny to differ essentially, not only from the 99 out of 100 of the whole body of extant manuscripts, but even from one another,” The Revision Revised, p.12.  Also, of the 5,843 Greek New Testament Manuscripts and 2209 Lectionaries extant today Hill says:  “The vast majority of these extant Greek New Testament manuscripts agree together very closely, so closely indeed that they may fairly be said to contain the same New Testament,” Which Bible, p. 104.


It should also be noted that altering of Manuscripts began well before our time.  E.C. Colwell informs us that as early as 200 A.D., scribes were altering Manuscripts [P75 for one].  For a reference, see The Origen of Textypes of New Testament Manuscripts, pp. 128-138.  In these pages Colwell tells us that, “The Brodmer John (P66) is also a witness to the early existence of many of the” scribal alterations.  Historians admit that Manuscript “D” was truncated by Marcion, New Age Bible Versions, by G.A. Riplinger, p. 487.


“Protestant theologians question its [Vaticanus (B)] lack of use by anyone for 1300 years -- then its sudden ‘discovery’ in the Vatican in 1481 A.D.  Its immediate use to suppress the Reformation and its subsequent release in 1582 A.D., as the Jesuit-Rheims Bible, is logical, considering the manuscript’s omission of anti-Catholic sections and books [i.e., sections of Daniel and Revelation],” New Age Bible Versions, by G.A. Riplinger, p. 552.


Dr. Nolan, who acquired fame for his Greek and Latin scholarship, spent 28 years in tracing the Received Text (Textus Receptus) back to its apostolic origin.  His searching led him to investigate the Bible texts of the Waldenses who were the lineal descendants of the Italic Church.  He states:  “It has supplied me with the unequivocal testimony of a truly apostolic branch of the primitive church.”  This means that the Textus Receptus has been proven to be in harmony with translations which go back to the Second Century.


It is important to note here that the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts were not brought into existence for many years following the Textus Receptus, when Eusebius copied them for Constantine (4th Century).  Besides this information, the International Bible Encyclopedia, p. 2955, states plainly, “that the latter copies of the King James Bible were taken from, really represent a more ancient [correct] reading.”


Codex Vaticanus differs from the Received Text, with just a few examples I will site here, such as:  It omits at least 2,877 words; It adds 536 words; It substitutes 935 words; It transposes 2,098 words; and it modifies 1,132 words; making a total of 7,578 verbal divergences.  Therefore, the present controversy between the King James Bible and the modern [per]versions, is the same old contest fought out between the early Church and rival sects [Antioch verses Alexandria]; and later, between the Waldensians and the Papists, from the Fourth to the Thirteenth Centuries.  Later still, between the Reformers and the Jesuits in the Sixteenth Century.

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