Where does this come from?

by Jan 2, 2008Uncategorized5 comments


I have been mulling over a question for some years now, and this little excerpt from a self-published book makes me ask it again: what sin lies at the heart of being just flat wrong about some aspect of theology?

What is the origin of the spirit that finds immoral conspiracies in the Chronicles of Narnia and writes a liberally underlined!!! and (inevitably) “exhaustively researched” screed about it?

What sin lies at the heart of a King James Only crusader who feels he has to turn Westcott and Hort into demons and the King James translators into super-apostles?

What sin leads an educated man to make preposterous claims? Here’s the boast Peshitta translator George Lamsa made for himself (taken from an article by Edwin Yamauchi in BibSac, 131):

Moreover, the author was educated under the care of learned priests of the Church of the East who knew no other language but Aramaic, and highly educated Englishmen, graduates of Oxford, Cambridge and other famous English schools. The author, through God’s grace, is the only one with the knowledge of Aramaic, the Bible customs and idioms, and the knowledge of the English language who has ever translated the Holy Bible from the original Aramaic texts into English and written commentaries on it, and his translation is now in pleasingly wide use.

As Yamauchi comments, Lamsa is basically claiming a lock on the truth!

There’s a similarity running through all of the examples I’ve cited, a recognizable voice in their writings. But what is it?

I have long posited anti-intellectualism as the culprit, but somehow I don’t feel that’s enough–especially considering that some people get a lot of education and still come out with pseudoscientific views. A respected teacher of mine said in an e-mail that the culprit was the “urge to cling to the known at all costs.”

What do you think?

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  1. Mark L Ward Jr

    I just want to test this comments feature. I’ve got a grand total of one reader right now as far as I know, so this won’t seem too unprofessional!

  2. Chuck Hortler

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your extensive efforts in bringing many brothers to Christ. Really appreciate your approach and sincerity.

    One question I asked over on Matt Everhard’s blog centers on what you mentioned above about “demonizing” W&H. Their differences in belief from their contemporaries are quite well-documented in their own writings.

    One oft-quoted set of Hort’s perspective is reflected in his 1858 letter to Rowland Williams* on page 400 of his “Letters” book (preserved over at archive.org).

    You’ve mentioned “False Friends” of the KJV (which I fully agree, are indeed, just that). How does one go about falsifying the objections to W&H as “even more” False Friends ( English wasn’t intentionally changed to bring about a different understanding. Comments from W & H are easily construed to mean that they had some social engineering objective and were uniquely positioned do so).

    I’ve searched your blog in vain for an analysis of W&H’s words to counter some of the claims KJVO (of which, I do not count myself) brothers?

    Is there a trustworthy reference somewhere? I would extend this to their Critical Text rules as well. Your presentation of Ambrose-Scrivener was interesting but there are statements that Scrivener made in the mid-1880s which are critical of W & H’s approach. Those seem to relate to why he wasn’t in favor of all of their rules?

    * https://archive.org/details/lifelettershort00hortuoft/page/398/mode/2up

    Thanks again for your time, effort and life’s work spent in pursuit of these topics. Very much appreciate your endeavors.


    • Mark Ward

      I’ve struggled to know how to respond to KJV-Only criticisms of Westcott and Hort, because I nearly always sense that I’m speaking to someone who has so little knowledge of Greek and of textual criticism that my efforts will be fruitless. =( Here goes with some brief points:

      1. Fundamentally, the text Westcott and Hort produced is massively similar to the TR. It teaches the same gospel, the same Jesus, all the same doctrines.

      2. Westcott and Hort never (almost never?) engaged in conjectural emendation: they chose readings from existing manuscripts. It’s hard to perform social engineering through textual criticism when you limit yourself like that.

      3. Scrivener did not fully agree with Westcott and Hort, but he stood staunchly with them against what we now call KJV-Onlyism. As I showed in that lecture, Scrivener treated the text of the NT in basically the same way Westcott and Hort did. He did not say, “The text has been perfectly preserved by the promise of God; let us now find that perfect text.” He performed the work of reasoned eclecticism.

      I’ve resisted digging deeper into Westcott and Hort’s views than I already have (I read their intro to NTTC years ago), because I feel the whole debate over them is irrelevant. Plenty of soundly evangelical scholars have taken on the work of NTTC, and they are not beholden to Westcott and Hort.

      • dcsj

        I agree with your approach here, I’d just like to add that back when I was paying closer attention to this issue, I sought out my own copies of the books where Westcott (in particular) and also Hort were charged with some kind of heresy or other. My own recollection is that they are largely misrepresented on these points. It seems like some KJOs were on a mission to find any damaging statements by them so as to tarnish their text-critical work. Thus, they took the criticized passages out of context, interpreted them in the worst possible light, and offered it as proof that W & H were devils and so was all their work.

        But as you say, W & H are basically irrelevant to the whole issue.

        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

        • Mark Ward

          This is my experience as well. But I haven’t dug too far into Westcott and Hort, despite repeatedly thinking I should—because their personal character is utterly irrelevant at this point. Plenty of doctrinally sound evangelical scholars (and I think Westcott was one, thought not Hort) have taken over the work and agreed with the basic viewpoint. They’ve refined that viewpoint, but they’ve adopted it. Ironically, so did F.H.A. Scrivener, the person who put together the GNT used by KJV-Onlyists.