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Picture of Book Cover

©1989 Samuel C. Gipp. Reproduced by permission

Question #48


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QUESTION: The Textus Receptus didn't appear until 1633 so how can the King James Bible, which was translated in 1611, be translated from it?

ANSWER: Wrong.

EXPLANATION: The Greek text which was used for the translation of the King James Bible extends back through history to the pens of Moses, David, Paul, John and the other inspired writers. Throughout history it has been known by a variety of names. Over the years the Greek text of the New Testament was collated by a number of different editors. The most famous of these being Desiderius Erasmus, Theodore Beza, Robert Stephanus and the Elzevir brothers, Abraham and Bonaventure.

Erasmus published five editions of the New Testament. The first in 1516 was followed by another in 1519 which was used by Martin Luther for his historic and earth shaking German translation. His third, fourth, and fifth followed in 1522, 1527 and 1535. Erasmus' work was magnificent and set the standard for centuries (sic) to come.

Robert Stephanus published four editions, dating from 1546 through 1549, 1550 and lastly 1551.

Theodore Beza published several editions of the Greek New Testament. Four were published in 1565, 1582, 1588 and 1598. These were printed in folio, meaning a sheet of paper was folded over once, thus producing four separate pages of the book. He also published five octavo editions, these dates being; 1565, 1567, 1580, 1590 and 1604. "Octavo" means that one printed sheet folded in such a way as to produce eight separate pages of the text. Books printed in this manner tended to have a smaller page size than folio works, but sometimes led to the need of a work being printed in two or more volumes. It is Beza's edition of 1598 and Stephanus edition of 1550 and 1551 which were used as the primary sources by the King James translators.

Some years later, the Elzevir brothers published three editions of the Greek New Testament. The dates being; 1624, 1633 and 1641. They followed closely the work of Beza, who in turn had followed the standard set by Erasmus. In the preface to their edition of 1633 they coined a phrase which was to become so popular as to be retrofitted to texts which preceded it by many years. They stated in Latin "textum ergo babes, nunc ab omnibus receptum..." ei "According to the text now held from the volume received..." Thus the title "Textus Receptus" or "Received Text" was born.

So we see that, even though the name "Textus Receptus" was coined twenty-two years after the Authorized Version was translated, it has become synonymous with the true Greek Text originating in Antioch.

(For your convenience, Appendix #2 in the back of this book lists the many names used to describe both the Antiochian and Alexandrian texts.)