Matt. 4:23

BY: Martin A. Shue


Often critics of our Authorized Version (AV) will criticize our AV as being based upon a “few very late manuscripts”. Their aim, no doubt, is to deceive the saints of God into believing that our AV has very little Greek ms. support and that it is based upon a “small handful” of highly inferior manuscripts. Following are several excerpts by Kenneth Barker:


"It is simply to point out that in most cases the readings found in older manuscripts, particularly the Greek uncials Vaticanus and Sinaiticus of the fourth century A.D., are to be preferred to those found in later manuscripts, such as those that reflect the TR." (Barker, The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, pp. 111-112)

"Through the providence of God, many more Greek manuscripts had been preserved and were subsequently discovered - in fact, more than five thousand of them. Some of the Greek manuscripts date back to the four hundreds and three hundreds - even to about A.D. 200. These ancient manuscripts were more reliable and more accurate, not being corrupted by errors made during countless times of copying, such as occurred with the late manuscripts used by the KJV." (Barker, The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, pp. 142-143)


It is clear from Mr. Barker’s comments that he puts much weight on the two 4th century codices, viz. Aleph and B. In fact he says that these readings “are to be preferred to those found in later manuscripts.” He goes on the boost that these mss. are “more reliable and more accurate” than the “late mss. used by the KJV”. These are truly interesting comments from Mr. Barker.


Edwin H. Palmer, the executive secretary for the committee on Bible translation for the NIV, wrote the following. "The KJV is not, however, the best translation to use today. This is so for two reasons: (1) it adds to the word of God and (2) it has now obscure and misleading renderings of God's Word. They did their best, but all they had to work with was a handful of copies of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament books. In a few sections they had no Greek manuscript at all! Instead, they had to rely on the Latin Vulgate's rendering of what they thought must have originally been in the Greek!” (emphasis added)


Again, it is clear from both these men that they want the average reader to believe that our AV is based upon “a handful of copies”. Dear saint, nothing could be further from the truth! There men are deliberately trying to misrepresent the facts. What is so amazing is the exact opposite is the truth of the matter – the TR is based primarily on the majority of mss. while the text that underlies the NIV is based upon “a handful of copies”. I could list thousands of individual examples but that is not the purpose of this study. What I would like to do in this article is look at one verse in light of Mr. Barker and Mr. Palmer’s comments. We will also look at several footnotes found in the modern versions.


Often times the smallest of errors crept into some copies due to the ancient method of writing in uncial letters. There were no spaces to separate the words and this fact alone has led to some rather strange readings. If you’ve ever seen an actual Greek ms. it looks like a bunch of letters randomly written down in neat rows. Below is a little example of writing in uncial letters.




If I were to write this in English it would be –




As you can see it would be terribly difficult to read your Bible if the entire book was written like this. You may also see how relatively easy it would be to introduce mistakes into the text you are copying. Many words (and phrases) are repeated throughout a sentence or verse and a somnolent scribe may accurately copy the first occurrence but as he returns to his exemplar his tired eyes may wonder to the next occurrence of the word or phrase especially if it is in close proximity as our example above demonstrates. Many words and phrases have been omitted in some copies due to this very phenomenon.


Look back for a moment at our example above. The word “o logos” appears 3 times in this short sentence. It would not be very hard for a weary scribe’s eyes to wonder from the first occurrence of the word to the second considering they are only separated by the little word “kai”. If this were to happen the phrase “kai o logos” would be omitted. Let me point out that this has not happened at this verse. I am merely using this as an example of what could happen and what in fact has happened in hundreds of other verses.


There is also great danger when one word ends with the same letter (or letters) that begin the next word or when that word ends in letters that can form an independent word. Often this results in the letters being absorbed by the first word or by a completely new word being formed. Dean John Burgon comments of this type of error that, “they are literally without number”. Such is the case in the example before us today.


The phrase before us today is taken from Matt. 4:23. I would like to give you the Traditional reading as it can be found in most every uncial copy. It would read as follows:




In our Greek texts it would read –


kai perihgen olhn thn Galilaian o IhsouV


And so nearly every Greek ms. exhibits the place with the exception of a small minority of manuscripts. Of the notable mss. we find B, Aleph, C and D to differ from the Traditional reading and of special interest they differ one from another. Below are their respective readings –


B – kai perihgen en olh th Galilaia


Aleph - kai perihgen o IhsouV en th Galilaia


C - kai perihgen o IhsouV en olh th Galilaia


D – kai perihgen o IhsouV olhn thn Galilaian


Once again it is easy to see that the “old uncials” give us conflicting reports as to what the evangelists actually wrote. In fact, these uncials differ from virtually every other ms. both uncial and cursive. At this point it is important to note that B (Vaticanus) alone of mss. omits the name of “Jesus”.


It is my contention that these variants arose from the ill-fated work of a single scribe. When copying the word ‘periegen’ he fortuitously repeated the final two letters which forms a separate Greek word, viz. ‘en’. With this ground word laid the other changes were inevitable. There is little doubt that the placement of the nomina sacra (i.e. Jesus) by Aleph, C and D is directly derived from the similar place in Matthew (cf. 9:35).


So, what does all this mean? Well, it wouldn’t mean much if men didn’t worship the Vatican and Sinai Codices. But because these two mss. are elevated above all others (see quotes above) modern scholars have a dilemma on their hands. The two mss. they adore above all others differ significantly one from the other. Therefore, as their habit is, they follow the single reading of Codex Vaticanus.


The Nestle-Aland Greek text, which most modern versions are based upon reads, “And he went throughout all Galilee”. I would again point out that this is the singular reading of Codex B. No other Greek ms. reads this way out of the thousands available. I remind my readers of Mr. Barker’s comments above, “Through the providence of God, many more Greek manuscripts had been preserved and were subsequently discovered - in fact, more than five thousand of them.” And we must ask ourselves as well as Mr. Barker --- what benefit are these “five thousand”” mss. if he, along with others, routinely choose to ignore their testimony and follow the single readings of B and Aleph?


Many of the modern versions ignore their underlying Greek text here and follow the true reading, viz. the Traditional Text. A few of these would be – NIV, NRSV, NASV, NLT and the Holman. However, others follow the single reading found in Vaticanus --- ESV, RSV, Message, ISV and the New World Translation. What I found to be interesting in these translations is that not one of them had any kind of footnote indicating that they had just ignored “more than five thousand” Greek mss. and had blindly followed the reading of a single corrupt codex! This is interesting because at many other times they go out of their way to put a footnote in if B reads differently than their text. In other words, they have little problem making note of a single reading but they make no mention here of the fact that every other ms. reads differently than their text. We read and marvel!


The NET and the NRSV have the following footnote – “Gk ‘And he’” (NRSV- Gk [He]). To the average reader this will mean little but those that know the facts will find this footnote very deceiving. This footnote makes it sound as though all Greek mss. are in agreement and read “And he”. This is simply not the case as has been shown in the study.


At the onset of this study I quoted Mr. Palmer as intimating that our AV is based upon a “handful of copies of the Greek manuscripts”. While this is far from the truth it is quite hypocritical of Mr. Palmer considering in hundreds of places the modern versions are based upon the reading(s) of 1 or 2 Greek manuscripts and their underlying Greek text is throughout based upon the minority Alexandrian Greek manuscripts. Matthew 4:23 is but one example of many that could’ve been presented. It is my hope that by consistent examination of the actual evidence you will begin to see that the claims of modern scholars are patently false and aimed only at destroying your faith in our Authorized King James Bible. Selah!