Mark Ward Proves That Defending Inerrancy Means Nothing

Many Christians believe that it is fundamental to defend the modern doctrine of Inerrancy. This would be true, if the doctrine of Inerrancy actually set forth anything meaningful. According to Mark Ward, Inerrancy means that “The Bible speaks truly in everything it affirms” (Ward. Bibliology for Beginners. 29.) Inerrancy is the doctrine that affirms the inspiration and authority of the Bible, but only in the original texts, which are no longer extant. This effectively makes it an utterly useless doctrine. Despite this fact, Ward gives four Scripture proofs to support this doctrine (I will use Ward’s translation from the book):

  1. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17)
  2. “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Num. 23:19)
  3. “God, who cannot lie” (Titus 1:2)
  4. “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)

Ward continues his thought by saying something quite interesting.

“It is sin to doubt God’s words, and like all sin it is a slippery slope…But how do we know what we have in our hands is really the Bible?”

(Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible? 33. Ellipses represent a break.)

So here Ward has to answer the most important question possible. If he does not answer this question adequately, the entirety of his book is useless. The answer to this question informs what is actually substantiated by the doctrine of Inerrancy. It is one thing to say that the Bible is inerrant, and another to be able to point to a Bible and say, “This is inerrant.” So how does Ward answer this question? Well, we know, according to Ward, based on “a work called ‘textual criticism'” (49). This is where I need my reader to pay attention. See how he finishes this thought.

“Here’s where I need to say very directly, don’t be alarmed. Yes, there are differences among Greek New Testament manuscripts. Yes, I sometimes wish they weren’t there, that we knew with precise certainty what every last syllable of the Greek New Testament was. It may even seem like that’s what Jesus promised us.”

(Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible? 50.

Ward has used a clever use of words to obfuscate what he is actually saying, so I will translate for you. Surrounding this statement are explanations of the various kinds of scribal errors which do not amount to any serious variants. In this statement, he leads his reader to believe that these are the kinds of variants that we do not know “With precise certainty,” or that we are actually after “every last syllable.” What Ward is actually saying here is that we do not know with precise certainty what the original text said. At that point, whether we are talking about syllables or words does not matter, because there is no amount of granularity that can be determined with his standard. The entire purpose of this chapter is to lower the guard of the Christian’s that read this book. He concludes with this statement:

“The fact is that every available edition of the Greek New Testament gives the same law – and the same grace. They all teach the same Christian faith.”

(Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible? 50.

The first thing my reader should notice is that if this is what Ward actually believes, he has no right to attack the TR. In fact, he has no reason to write this book at all because all bibles are basically the same. The TR falls into the category of “every available edition of the Greek New Testament.” So either Ward doesn’t actually believe what he wrote here, or a good portion of his ministry is folly, according to his own standard. Not only is it folly, it is actually sin, again, according to his standard.

Secondly, my reader should notice that Ward introduces his own standard for how you should view the Bible. This is common among the Critical Text crowd. They almost always avoid exegeting the entirely of 2 Timothy 3:15-16. The Scriptures are “able to make thee wise unto salvation” in addition to being profitable for “doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The Bible is not just a bare bones document that is only to be used for bringing people to Christ. It also informs the Christian’s entire life as it pertains to faith and practice. According to Ward, the “textual critics have weeded them (variants) out with a high degree of confidence” (Ibid. 58). That is to say that Ward has a low degree of uncertainty.

So let’s put this all together. According to Ward, “it is sin to doubt God’s words.” According to Ward, “every available edition of the Greek New Testament gives the same law – and the same Grace. They all teach the same Christian faith.” According to Ward, we can have “a high degree of confidence” in our Bible. So not only is Ward in sin for doubting the TR, he is also in sin for not having full confidence in his own Bible. He is further in sin for teaching people to sin by doubting God’s words. Keep in mind that this is all according to Ward’s own standard that he set in his book.

Lastly, I want my reader to note that nowhere has Ward actually answered the question, “how do we know that what we have in our hands is really the Bible?” He never identifies a particular text or translation and he never says anything other than that “we have a high degree of confidence” that what we have is a Bible. Which is to say, “we have a low degree of doubt.” Which again, according to Ward, is sin. The most important thing to recognize about this “high degree of confidence,” is that it is entirely arbitrary. There is no metric or component of the critical text methodology that actually allows for such a determination, which is apparent in the fact that Ward doesn’t actually substantiate anything he says in this book regarding his levels of confidence. This is the fatal flaw of the Critical Text, and everybody knows it. Mark Ward wrote an entire book about the Bible, and couldn’t even tell his reader what the Bible was, or that they could be fully confident in said Bible. According to Ward, that makes him “in sin.”

My reader needs to recognize that while this theology is actually foolish, but it is also a blessing. It is a blessing because men like Mark Ward very confidently state that they don’t actually believe in a Bible. They believe in a reconstructed text that bears witness to the Bible with a high degree of confidence. That is not the Protestant view, which allows people like you and me to mark and avoid teachers like Ward, Wallace, and White. It is the dividing line. It is the fight of this generation. People have stopped believing in the Bible and the authority of the Bible, and the aforementioned men are leading the charge to convince conservative Christians to do the same.

Mark Ward the Conspiracy Theorist


Mark Ward recently published a pamphlet in November 2020 called, Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. I’m going to do a full analysis on my YouTube channel in the coming weeks, but I ran across something too good not to comment on here. If you’re familiar with Ward’s work, you know that above all else he values that people be “nice” when disagreeing with him and people he likes. He re-emphasizes this on pages 65 and 66 when commenting on Crossway’s “Permanent Edition.”

“This means that when Crossway put out a Permanent Text Edition of their popular and excellent translation, the English Standard Version, promising no more revisions, Christian people should have complained on social media (nicely) and written into Crossway to object (nicely).”

Mark Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. 65-66.

Now it is comical that Mark Ward simultaneously lauds the ESV as an “excellent translation” while also stating that it is not excellent enough in its current state to be settled. I have said this often, but it’s entertaining to note that modern scholars praise their modern versions while at the same time commenting on the fact that they aren’t good enough to stay the same for more than a decade or good enough to be read in isolation. If it was such an “excellent” translation, why does it go through revisions so often or need to be supplemented with other “imperfect” translations? I imagine Crossway wouldn’t sell a lot of Bibles if they released a marketing campaign around Ward’s idea of “An imperfect Bible for an imperfect church!” Getting back to my point, we see here that Ward values the first commandment of evangelical scholarship so much he included it twice.

It is ironic that Ward very loudly and repeatedly states how much he needs people to be nice while simultaneously offering the harshest and most uncharitable critiques of people who disagree with him. He slaps people with the same hand he offers fellowship, but it’s fine as long as he does it with a soft voice and plenty silly, quirky, quips and analogies. If you don’t believe me, he literally compares the transmission of the Bible to the germs left on a cookie that one of his kids licked from top to bottom and put back in the cookie jar. In this article, I am going to demonstrate that Ward seems to have an extremely conspiratorial view of what he calls “KJV Onlyists.”

Wide Eyed Conspiracy Theories

On page 67, Ward offers the most honest definition of “KJV Onlyism” employed by Critical Text advocates.

“KJV-Onlyists insist that the KJV is the only truly trustworthy translation of Scripture. It is, they say, the best translation of the best texts.”

Mark Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. 67.

I have been saying for a long time that men like Ward and James White define “KJV Onlyists” as anybody who reads a KJV, but here he says it clearly. What my reader needs to recognize is that when people use the term “KJV Onlyist,” they are not talking about the views of people who graduated from Ward’s Alma Mater. They are talking about anybody who reads a KJV.

After defining “KJV Onlyism,” Ward continues to produce one of the most unhinged takes I have ever seen on page 68.

“It must be pointed out that most KJV-Only Christians believe that the vast majority of Christians who can read Greek and Hebrew are stupid, crazy, or evil (rather than simply wrong) – dupes, dummies, or devils involved in a plot to undermine the Bible’s teaching about Christ’s deity. KJV-Onlyism is, in other words, a conspiracy theory.”

Mark Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. 68.

In a remarkably matter-of-fact statement made by Ward, he actually alleges that “most KJV-Only Christians” believe in a vast conspiracy propagated by “stupid, crazy, or evil” Christians. He shockingly insinuates that people who read the KJV believe that “vast majority of Christians who can read Greek and Hebrew” are “dupes, dummies, or devils involved in a plot to undermine the Bible’s teaching about Christ’s deity.” This is by far the most absurd thing I have read in a very long time. There is a difference between somebody saying, “This textual variant teaches something different about the divinity of Christ” and “There is a vast conspiracy to take Christ’s divinity out of Scripture.” Ironically, there are many people in Ward’s camp who allege that a conspiracy took place in the early church to add Christ’s divinity into the text, and that is pretty mainstream!

I will do my best to pick through Ward’s wild ideas. In the first place, the number of Christians who can read Greek and Hebrew is astonishingly small. Secondly, this statement demonstrates that the foremost recognized “KJV Scholar” hasn’t the slightest clue who actually reads the KJV. I suspect this could be due to the fact that he believes nobody can actually read the KJV. It seems that in order to make sense of why people read the KJV, Ward has concocted a world in which there is a massive group of conspiracy theorists in the church. This must be the only reason somebody would read a KJV! Instead of charitably stating that people who read the KJV simply disagree with the conclusions of modern textual scholarship, he sends his reader off the deep end into a ridiculous conspiracy theory that KJV readers are unhinged conspiracy theorists. Even though Ward states that “They say” that it is because the KJV is the best translation of the best texts, Ward posits that the true reason is a rampant conspiracy theory plaguing the church.


It’s funny how Critical Text advocates cannot write a book about their theology without talking poorly about the KJV and those who read it. In Ward’s case, it seems he got done watching CNN and realized that the “QAnon” strategy could also work in the realm of the Bible translation debate. Here’s the strategy:

  1. Find a conspiracy theory
  2. Misrepresent the conspiracy theory
  3. Paint all people from the group you don’t like as the same as those conspiracy theorists

There are certainly people that believe as Ward has described above, just like there were/are people who believe things on anonymous message boards. The same way that CNN paints “most conservatives” as “QAnon,” Ward paints “most KJV Onlyists” as conspiracy theorists. This is honestly embarrassing and I’m not sure who signed off on actually publishing these statements. It is such a bad take, in fact, that it is a conspiracy theory in itself. If Ward truly values being nice and charitable so much, it makes zero sense to call most of the 55% of people who read a Bible conspiracy theorists.

Overall, I found Ward’s take highly entertaining. He would rather believe that most KJV readers are conspiracy theorists than actually look at the arguments and interact with them. If anything, this should be encouraging to my readers who are TR advocates because the Critical Text guys have resorted to CNN arguments in their attempts to justify their text. When it comes down to it, Critical Text advocates have openly admitted that they have no ultimate standard by which they judge texts (James White), and that they don’t have a text today (Dan Wallace). I’ll leave my reader with four quotes, which are mostly for Mark Ward, because I know that he reads my blog.

“It is found again in the words of Jesus, who said, ‘The Scripture cannot be broken’ (John 10:35).”

Mark Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. 30.

“Even if the text of the Gospels could be fixed – and, when viewed at the level of object and material artifact, this goal has never been achieved”

Knust & Wasserman. To Cast the First Stone. 15.

“Think about this: if we need the testimony of a professional historian to testify that the testimony of Luke the Apostle is reliable, then who’s going to testify that the professional historian is reliable?”

Mark Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. 42.

“At some point, we’re just going to have to trust someone – why not let it be God?”

Mark Ward. Bibliology for Beginners: What Does the Bible Say About the Bible?. 42.

Modern Critical Text Advocates Cannot Say Anything About Originality or Authenticity


There are a number of ways the textual criticism discussion goes awry. Sometimes the conversation is hyper focused on textual variants and “textual data,” other times the topic of discussion is Erasmus or the Reformed. What is almost always ignored is what the Scriptures say. There is a reason the Critical Text advocates do not ever wish to talk about theology, and it is because the theology of the modern critical text system is completely bankrupt. It has strayed so far from Protestant orthodoxy that it shares similarities with Rome.

In this article, I will discuss why the Critical Text Advocate cannot justifiably debate variants in relation to the Divine Original.

The Methodological Gap

The Modern Critical Text methodology, which is allegedly the only “meaningful” and “consistent” apologetic, has what the scholars call a “methodological gap.”

“The reason is that there is a methodological gap between the start of the textual tradition as we have it and the text of the autograph itself. Any developments between these two points are outside the remit of textual criticism proper. Where there is “no trace [of the original text] in the manuscript tradition” the text critic must, on Mink’s terms, remain silent.” 

Peter Gurry. A Critical Examination of the Coherence based Genealogical Method. 93.

“There still remains a gap between the form of the text from which we conclude by critical examination that the extant witnesses must be descended and the yet older forms from which that oldest recoverable text must be descended…Recognizing that there is a gap between the oldest recoverable forms of the text and the creation of the work requires us to address one final topic…The New Testament philologist’s task is not to recover the original authorial text, not only because we cannot at present know on philological grounds what the original text might have been, nor even because there may have been several forms of the tradition, but because philology is not able to make a pronouncement as to whether or not there was such an authorial text”  

(DC Parker. Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament. Kindle Edition. 26-27).

This means that the text critical methodologies employed by modern scholars and apologists cannot speak to the authenticity of any variant in relation to the original because modern textual criticism isn’t designed to deal with the concept of the original.

The scholars and apologists are quick to brag about the “scientific” nature of textual criticism, but in doing this, they give up the ground necessary to actually defend any singular textual variant as “authentic”, or the whole of Scripture for that matter. When such a methodological gap is recognized, so too is recognized the reality that this gap prevents advocates of the Modern Critical Text from speaking to the authorial text of Scripture based on the “textual data.” The textual data does is limited by the reality that there is nothing that connects the “earliest and most reliable manuscripts” with the autographic text. There is no way to verify that the reconstructed text is the original text, hence the methodological gap.

This is where the discussion of textual variants is extremely misleading and even deceitful. When Critical Text advocates make claims about the “authenticity” of a variant reading, they have stepped away from their “consistent methodology” to argue from a totally different epistemic starting point which assumes the concept of the Divine Original. As noted above by DC Parker, even the concept of one authorial tradition is not certain because of this methodological gap.

The concept of an “authorial” or “original” text is something that is theological in nature. It is something that is assumed a priori from Scripture. If the Scriptures were inspired by God(2 Tim. 3:16), there is one text that was inspired, and therefore Christians argue for one inspired text. This concept is not something that can be demonstrated from the textual data and is something that has been increasingly called into question in today’s world of textual scholarship.

“Books and the texts they preserve are human products, bound in innumerable ways to the circumstances and communities that produce them. This is also true of the New Testament, despite its status as a uniquely transcendent, sacred text, held by some to be inspired by God…Even if the text of the Gospels could be fixed – and, when viewed at the level of object and material artifact, this goal has never been achieved – the purported meaning of texts also change…Paradoxically, attempts to edit and preserve these important books multiplies rather than settles the many forms in which they appear, as each generation revises both the New Testament and the Gospels in concert with its own aspirations, assumptions, theological perspectives, and available technologies.”

Jennifer Knust & Tommy Wasserman. To Cast the First Stone. 15-16.

The Bible, according to these so called “Evangelical” textual scholars, is nothing more than a human product which reflects the communities of faith that produced it.

The methodological gap is the death of defending the Scriptures for Christians. It is an admission that any conclusion that scholars and apologists arrive to cannot be said about the authenticity or originality of any given verse or word in Scripture.


Think about this methodological gap the next time you engage with a Modern Critical Text advocate. They will vigorously debate passages such as Mark 16:9-20 and 1 John 5:7, despite the fact that they have no “consistent” reason to do so. What they actually can debate is whether or not those verses or passages should be printed in our Modern Critical Texts, but that’s it. The nature of this modern text has no credentials, no progeny. All that we know about these manuscripts is that they were created, and that a small number of them survived. We have no clue who created them or used them or if they were even a part of the manuscripts used by actual Christians. The methodological gap proves that modern critical text advocates have surrendered the ground necessary to defend any place of Scripture as authentic. It is simply inconsistent to do so, because the methodological and axiomatic foundation of the Modern Critical Text has nothing to say about the original, let alone if there ever was one original.

When a Critical Text advocate tries to argue for authenticity, they are borrowing a concept that does not exist in their system from another system, one that is theological. They borrow from a system that asserts the concept of an original from Scripture, which some would call an “a priori” assumption. This a priori assumption is one which is not consistent with the modern critical methodology. As some popular apologists point out, this is the sign of a failed argument. It proves that if the point of the discussion is the Divine Original, the Modern Critical Text advocate has no consistent reason to contribute. While the goal of some Evangelical textual scholars may be the original, there is certainly nothing in the methodology that can actually make that happen.

That is why those in the Received Text camp say that there are no modern critical textual scholars trying to find the original, because a desire to find the original doesn’t and cannot actually translate to anything tangible due to the methodological gap. Instead of rejecting the Modern Critical Text, scholars instead say, “No doctrines are affected” and hope that Christians don’t think too hard about it. It is a failed system if the goal is the Divine Original, and scholars know it. So when a Modern Critical Text advocate tries to say that a passage or verse is not original, the simple response is, “What does your system have anything to do with the original?” They cannot argue such claims from their system, and that is the brutal reality that Modern Critical Text advocates continue to ignore.

Review: The King James Version Debate – Chapter 2


This next chapter titled, “Kinds of Errors in New Testament Manuscripts” is a summary of the various types of scribal errors that can be observed in extant manuscripts, so this article will likely be short. Carson employs this chapter to give his reader context to the actual decision making process that is practiced by textual critics.

The Kinds of Errors in Manuscripts

Carson categorizes scribal errors into two categories: Intentional and unintentional. The study of scribes has been improved upon in the last decade and is most thoroughly examined by Dr. Jim Royse in his book entitled Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri published by Brill in the New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents series edited by Bart Ehrman. This book can be had for $436.00. Despite the further development of scribal habits, much of what Carson says in this chapter is still relevant today.

I will make one note on the study of scribal habits overall. While there are many things that can be discerned by the habits of scribes, some practices will never be understood fully. Take for example Carson’s commentary on marginal notes.

“Occasionally, honest errors of judgment have led to the introduction of an error. For example, if a scribe accidentally left out a line or a few words, the corrector might put them in the margin. The next scribe who came along and copied this manuscript might reinsert the words into the text at the wrong place. Alternatively, the marginal note may have been a scribe’s comment rather than an integral part of the text; but the scribe who copied that manuscript might well have inserted the note into the new copy he was writing, thus adding something to the text of Scripture that should not be there.”

Carson, D. A.. The King James Version Debate (p. 22). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Notice how Carson employs the words “may” and “might.” This is very important for the layperson to understand if they are not familiar with the way scholars interpret data. What these types of words should signal to everybody is that any statement that is prefaced with “may,” “might,” “probably,” etc. is that the statement is not some established record of fact. That does not mean that using such language is wrong or bad, just that it should be interpreted as what is likely, not what is certain. Scribes did not leave definitive guides to interpreting their annotations and much of what scholars come up with are educated guesses. Again, this practice is not wrong, it is just important to note as it is relevant when discussing with certainty what is in the text of Scripture.

The reason I take note of this is due to the fact that the average person will read this statement and others like it, and take it as a statement of certainty as to what is occurring. Because the scribes who inserted words in to margins do not offer explanation as to what the marginal note is or why it is there, the scholars must use “may haves” and “might bes” to speculate what exactly those marginal notes are. This is an accepted practice in every discipline of scholarship where the data does not offer certainty. It is a responsible practice, though Christians should be aware that any statement of certainty issued on top of the premise of a “might be” is severely irresponsible from a scholarly perspective. This practice is quite common among Critical Text apologists, so I wanted to make note of it here. If the goal is determining the text of Scripture with certainty, then statements prefaced by “may bes” and “might bes” are not adequate to do furnish that goal.

What Carson does practically in this chapter is assure his reader that despite the errors that he is describing, there is no cause for worry.

“Before taking the discussion further, I should pause and set at rest the troubled concern of anyone who, on the basis of what I have written so far, concludes that the manuscript tradition is entirely unreliable, or that we can not really be certain of any of it. There is no need for such rigorous pessimism.”

Carson, D. A.. The King James Version Debate (p. 24). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Based on what Carson has said, he is correct in making this statement. The problem with this statement is with the scholarship that informs this statement. If the situation were as simple as correcting errors with a complete set of manuscripts, then there is no issue at all with what Carson says here. The problem is that there is not a complete extant record to draw from and ultimately much of, if not all of the conclusions made by textual scholars end up being prefaced with “may,” “might,” “likely, ” and “probably.” Dan Wallace makes a nearly identical argument when he presents the scenario as a spectrum between radical skepticism and absolute certainty. I address this topic in further depth frequently on my blog, but this brief survey of quotations should help my reader understand the thin foundation Carson’s statement is built upon.

The last note I will make on this chapter is regarding Carson’s sources. In this chapter, Carson quotes Metzger on the topic, which should inform us that what we are going to find is essentially the condensed thoughts of Metzger. This is an important observation as it gives the reader an idea of the school of thinking Carson is drawing from.


This chapter is essentially a brief summary of the types of scribal errors described by Metzger. There isn’t a lot to comment on here, other than the references to Metzger inform the reader the school of thought behind Carson’s thinking. If the reader wanted to do further studies on the material in this chapter, they could pick up a copy of The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration which is the text referenced by Carson and the standard textbook in most seminaries on the topic. Bart Ehrman co-edited this textbook, which might be an important detail for some readers. This book is still recommended as introductory material on textual criticism by current scholars such as Dr. Peter Gurry and Dr. Elijah Hixson.

There is No “Alexandrian” Text Family


One of the greatest challenges to overcome when discussing textual criticism with the average Christian is breaking through the wall of misconceptions regarding the topic. My personal theory is that if those in the Modern Critical Text had more information, they likely would not support the ongoing efforts of textual scholars. One of the most powerful claims that a Critical Text advocate will make is that their text is based off of the “earliest and best” manuscripts. It is the kind of jargon that is located in the footnotes of study bibles that compels people to believe that they have a high quality product in their hands.

One of arguments used to support the claim that modern bibles are based on “better” manuscripts is that they come from a textual family or group that is earlier than the text family that Reformation era Bibles were made from. So the argument for the Modern Critical Text is that it is made from manuscripts that represent an earlier form of the text closer to the original than later manuscripts. There is a major problem with this assertion – these early manuscripts differ so greatly from one another that even the scholars admit they are not a part of a manuscript family. What this practically means is there is no way to substantiate that the Modern Critical Text represents a uniform version of the text that can be traced back to some authorial manuscript group. This seems to be evidence strong enough to pump the breaks on the whole Critical Text machine, but as we see it still charges forward.

The Scholarly Perspective on Text Types Has Changed

Formerly, the idea of “text types” was a major engine for the inner workings of textual criticism and scholarship. The way that variants would be assigned value was in large part based on this text-type formulation.

“The Alexandrian is typically considered the most reliable text-type, with the Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine generally following in that order”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 8.

“If one reads Bruce Metzger’s well-known commentary that accompanies the UBS, the notion of text-types is absolutely essential to his explanation of the history of the New Testament text and, with it, to the practice of textual criticism itself”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 8.

This foundational way of thinking has shifted in the last ten years to acknowledge that the concept of textual families, at least as it applies to the Alexandrian, Caesarean, and Western text-types, is not supported by the data. While the concept of text-types has been retired, the Byzantine texts have been retained as a group.

“One exception here is that the editors still recognize the Byzantine text as a distinct text in its own right. This is due to the remarkable agreement that one finds in our late Byzantine manuscripts.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 9.

Now this is usually dismissed because, as the quoted material notes, these manuscripts are “late.” Yet it is acknowledged by all that the age of the paper a text is printed on does not necessarily speak to the age of the words on that paper. Due to the same data analysis that demonstrated that the Alexandrian text-type was not in fact a text type, scholars have acknowledged that the Byzantine family is quite old. This is also evidenced by the fact that Byzantine readings were found in the Papyri.

“As just noted, the editors still accept a Byzantine group even if they do not view it as a traditional text-type. In fact, they do much more than merely accept it; they have reevaluated it and concluded that it should be given more weight than in the past.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 10.

“But when the CBGM was first used on the Catholic Letters, the editors found that a number of Byzantine witnesses were surprisingly similar to their own reconstructed text.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 10.

“There were fifty-two changes to the critical text. In thirty-six cases the changes were made in conformity with the Byzantine text and in only two cases against the Byzantine text. Further, in 105 of 155 passages where the editors leave the decision open about the initial text, the Byzantine witnesses attest to the reading deemed to be of equal value to variant a (=NA28).”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 11.

What this is saying is that not only were Westcott and Hort wrong, but so was Metzger. When computer based analysis is applied, the Byzantine text gains a great deal of value, even when only considering the first 1,000 years of textual data.

What Does This Mean for the “Earliest and Best” Manuscripts?

In abandoning the former framework of text-types, the value of the Byzantine group has been elevated in many places to equal or even above the formerly titled Alexandrian text-type. This is interesting, but not as much as what the same analysis revealed about the quality of the so-called Alexandrian family. When the witnesses in the Alexandrian family are compared using computer tools, they share a very low level of agreement in the places of variation. For example, Codex Sinaiticus’ closest relative in the synoptic gospels is the NA28, not any known manuscript. Vaticanus comes in second.

“Sinaiticus’s closest relative is A, the editor’s reconstructed text (i.e., the NA28/UBS5 text. These two agree at 87.9 percent. Next in line is 03, with 84.9 percent, and so on.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 46.

Interestingly enough, if you go to the manuscript clusters tool today, 01 and 03 only agree 65% in the same tool provided in the quoted material above. What that seems to demonstrate is that the NA28 is the closest relative to both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus by a very large margin, even more than Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are relatives to each other.

If we use this tool on both the synoptic gospels and on John, we find that there aren’t any witnesses used in this analysis that are coherent enough to warrant any sort of direct genealogical connection. In short, the NA28 is the closest related text to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Out of the thousands and thousands of manuscripts often cited in debates to support the Critical Text, the closest living relative to the “earliest and best” manuscripts is the scholar’s own reconstructed text.

How could it be then, that this is still the prevailing theory among Critical Text advocates? Does this not warrant a significant departure from favoring the “earliest and best” manuscripts? Well, no, because according to the scholars, there are no absolute rules to textual criticism.

“As with so much in textual criticism, there are no absolute rules here, and experience serves as the best guide.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 57.

“The significance of this selectivity of our evidence means that our textual flow diagrams and the global stemma do not give us a picture of exactly what happened.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 113.

“However, there are still cases where contamination can go undetected in the CBGM, with the result that the proper ancestor-descendent relationships are inverted.”

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism. 115.


The scholarly assessment of text-types and the new methods being employed to create modern bibles should tell us a few things. First, it should tell us that the previous era of scholars such as Westcott, Hort, and Metzger were incorrect in their conclusions. Second, it should tell us that the scholars that came after don’t share the same confidence in the CBGM to find the original as perhaps James White. Third, it should tell us that anybody still using text-types and Alexandrian priority to argue for the validity of textual variants are severely behind the times. Not only have the scholars abandoned such notions, but the data simply does not support the conclusion that the Alexandrian texts are better than later manuscripts. Since the closest relative to such manuscripts is the text that scholars themselves have created, the data does not appear to be the driving factor for this camp. The driving factor seems to be the notion that Vaticanus must be the best because it is the earliest surviving manuscript we have.

The Received Text position is not one that attempts to reconstruct the original from extant data because it recognizes a) that the Bible never fell away and therefore does not need to be reconstructed and b) that the data is insufficient to do so. Even so, we can look at the scholar’s own analysis and see quite plainly that even their conclusions are established on a thin layer of presuppositions that are not supported by the data. This data, by the way, is the very same that is the foundation for the footnotes, brackets, and removed words and passages from modern bibles. The Received Text crowd has already rejected such a practice, but the Modern Critical Text camp embraces it with open arms.

The texts that serve as a foundation for modern bibles are not a text-family. They have no widespread attestation in the manuscript tradition. Since this is the case, what are we doing using them to make modern bibles? Is this all it takes for the church to toss out passages such as Mark 16:9-20? The burden of proof is set remarkably low for a passage to be thrown out of the bible as inauthentic. It seems rash that this is all it would take for a Christian to believe that a passage should be stripped from the text of Scripture, and yet here we are. As I often say, if the average Modern Critical Text advocate simply listened to their own scholars, they might express the same concerns as the Received Text crowd. It takes a strong tradition and a priori belief to discover that the foundational principle is incorrect and still believe the outcome of that principle to be true.

Ruckman & the Critical Text: Theological Cousins


When people hear the term “King James Onlyism,” there are a number of definitions that might come to mind. Some think of the version of King James Onlyism which believes that the Bible didn’t exist until 1611 and that the English King James was immediately inspired. This is often called “Ruckmanite” KJVO, or something similar. Others might think of somebody who only reads the KJV due to the lack of quality of modern translations or somebody who simply prefers the KJV. On my blog I rarely address Ruckmanite King James Onlyism because I personally have never talked to somebody who believes after Ruckman or Gipp. If people weren’t constantly bringing him up, I probably would not have even heard of it from anybody in real life.

Recently I was talking to a brother who lives in Tennessee, who told me that it is a pretty serious problem where he lives, which made me realize I’ve never really addressed it. In this article, I’d like to examine the theology of this position and critique it by comparing it theologically to the Critical Text position. One of the major issues with this discussion is that the Modern Critical Text apologists cannot seem to bring themselves to make the proper category distinction between the Traditional Text position and Ruckmanite KJVO, so I will demonstrate in this article that it is actually the Critical Text position and Ruckmanite KJVO that are similar, not the TR position. Perhaps this will even demonstrate to the Ruckmanite that their theology is quite liberal in reality. In this article, I am using the term “Ruckmanite” to describe those who believe that the Bible was re-inspired in the English King James Version (double inspiration) and who reject the authority of the Hebrew and Greek texts over the KJV as a result of that doctrine.

The Similarities between the Modern Critical Text and Ruckmanite KJVO

Interestingly enough, the only thing that Ruckmanite KJVO and Traditional Text advocates share is their use of the King James Bible, and even then, some Traditional Text guys read the NKJV, MEV, or Geneva Bible. The Ruckmanite and the Modern Critical Text (CT) advocate actually have a lot more in common than a Ruckmanite and Traditional Text advocate. I am not saying that the theology of the CT and Ruckman are exactly the same, just that they share a serious overlap in the doctrinal core of their respective positions.

First, both the CT proponent and the Ruckmanite reject that the Bible was providentially preserved in the Hebrew and Greek. The CT proponent says that the Bible has fallen away, or perhaps was stashed in the desert in Egypt and needs to be reconstructed. There is no way to adhere to the WCF or LBCF 1.8 as a Critical Text advocate unless we redefine 1.8 in a Warfieldian way. Alternatively, the Ruckmanite will say that the Bible didn’t officially exist until 1611. While each camp arrives at extremely different conclusions, both accept the premise that the Bible was not handed down perfectly in the original manuscripts. See this quote from Dr. Andrew Naselli in his widely read How to Understand and Apply the New Testament.

“The Bible’s inerrancy does not mean that copies of the original writings or translations of those copies are inerrant. Copies and translations are inerrant only to the extent that they accurately represent the original.”

Andrew Naselli. How to Understand and Apply the New Testament. 43.

The Ruckmanite would agree that the the copies and translations of the copies of the original are not inerrant. They disagree with Naselli in the fact that they believe the KJV is the only inerrant Bible, whereas Naselli believes the Bible is only inerrant where it can be proven to be original (which is the standard view of inerrancy set forth by the Chicago Statement, article X). So both camps say that the copies that were handed down are not providentially preserved, whereas the Traditional Text advocate believes as Turretin did, that the original writings are represented by the apographs, or copies.

“By the original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit”

Francis Turretin. Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. I, 106.

Second, both the CT proponent and the Ruckmanite are okay with treating translations as authoritative. The CT scholars use the Septuagint as authoritative above the original Hebrew, whereas the Ruckmanite views the KJV to be authoritative over the Hebrew and Greek. Even though the extant versions of the Septuagint cannot be proven to represent the original, these versions are used to correct the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Both, due to the first belief that God did not providentially preserve His Word in the original Greek and Hebrew, are perfectly fine treating a translation as authoritative over the original text.

While the doctrine of inerrancy as set forth by the CT advocate may sound different than the view of Ruckman, it really is quite similar. Since there is no mechanism of textual criticism that can demonstrate an extant copy or translation of a copy to “accurately represent the original,” the only thing that remains is the belief that the translation is more authoritative than the Hebrew original. The CT does this in many places in the Old Testament. If you were to inspect the footnotes of the Old Testament in a 2016 ESV for example, there are readings on nearly every page that are taken from translations such as the Latin, Syriac, and Greek over and above the Hebrew. This again is quite different from the Traditional Text view, which aligns with the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689.

“The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.”

The Westminster Confession of Faith. 1.8.

The Traditional Text view is that the authentic Scriptures are the Hebrew and Greek, which have been providentially kept pure in all ages, so the concept of taking a translation over the original does not exist in the TR view. Both the CT proponent and Ruckmanite appeal to translations as authoritative over the original. While the CT advocate may offer lip service to the Reformed doctrine above, they contradict themselves when they take the LXX or any other translation as more authoritative than the Hebrew or even Greek (2 Peter 3:10). The Ruckmanite is simply more transparent about the practice. At face value, the CT advocate and the TR advocate may sound like they are saying the same thing about translations being authoritative insofar as they represent the original, but there isn’t a concept of an available original in the CT position. In order for Article X of the Chicago Statement to actually mean something, there needs to be a defined original that can be used as a final authority. Further, the CT scholars reject this in practice when they place readings in the text over the original languages from other translations such as the Latin, Syriac, and LXX. In this sense, they share far more in common with the Ruckmanite when it comes to Bibliology than the TR proponent.


In both the case of the CT proponent and the Ruckmanite, the core belief is that the Bible was not providentially preserved in the original Greek and Hebrew. The CT advocate applies this doctrine by enthusiastically supporting the ongoing effort to reconstruct the Bible, whereas the Ruckmanite applies the very same doctrine by saying that the Bible was finally inspired in the KJV in 1611. It is the same doctrine with two different conclusions. It is the same problem answered in two very different ways. The tactic that the CT camp employs is to focus on the the fact that both the Ruckmanite and the TR believer read the KJV and not the theological core and practical application of that doctrine. The CT believer looks at the Traditional Text advocate and the Ruckmanite, sees that they both use the KJV, and concludes they are the same. This is a massive blunder.

The important distinction occurs in the doctrinal substance of both positions, and when considered, the CT advocate and the Ruckmanite have much more in common than the Traditional Text proponent. Both the CT supporter and Ruckmanite believe that the inerrant text was not transmitted in the copies. Both the CT supporter and the Ruckmanite believe that translations can be more authoritative than the original language texts as a result of the first belief. The Traditional Text advocate affirms against both. The only similarity between the Ruckmanite and the TR advocate is that they use the KJV, and this isn’t even true in every case as many TR believers read the NKJV, MEV, or perhaps the Geneva Bible.

There is a reason some have appropriately labeled the CT position as “Reformed Ruckmanism,” because there is serious overlap in the theology of both positions. The overlap is so significant, that it is perplexing that the CT apologist even takes issue with Ruckmanite KJVO at all. They slam the Ruckmanite for viewing a translation as more authoritative than the original language texts, but they do the very same thing with the Latin, Syriac, and LXX. There is no theological reason for a CT advocate to object to Ruckman. The only place they really disagree is in the severely incorrect answer Ruckman has to their shared problem.

Ultimately, the CT proponent has a playground tier argument against the Ruckmanite. They called “dibs” on correcting the original with a translation, and don’t like that the Ruckmanites aren’t respecting the authority of “dibs.” Ironically, the Traditional Text camp is the only position that consistently critiques both positions, despite being labeled as “KJVO” by CT apologists. As I have noted before on this blog, the Modern Critical Text position has yet to explain how their practices can be consistent theologically with Scripture. That is what happens when you focus on textual data and variants all day and fail to stop for a second to think about doctrine.

The Absurdity of Anti-KJV Rhetoric


There are a number of reasons people choose a Bible translation. For those in the Modern Critical Text crowd, it’s often the same logic that caused many people to vote for Joe Biden – because he wasn’t the other guy. In the same way, the modern axiom seems to be, “So as long as it’s not the KJV it’s fine.” In fact, this is exactly the logic found in mainstream, “Reformed” New Testament exegesis textbooks such as How to Understand and Apply the New Testament authored by Andrew Naselli. All translations are permissible, even the Message, so as long as it’s not the KJV. The Living Bible even has more to offer than the King James, according to Naselli!

This, in my opinion, is astronomically stupid. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the King James is the best available translation without believing that the English of the King James was re-inspired. This is true, even if the modern scholars and armchair warriors disagree. In this article, I will examine two common arguments made by anti-KJV Christians to see if what they say actually makes any sense.

Reading One Bible Version is Bad

This is a rather common complaint from the Modern Critical Text crowd. They suppose that being an “onlyist” is a bad thing. Yet when we look at this claim simply, it doesn’t make all that much sense. There are plenty of people who read the NIV and only the NIV. Same goes with the ESV and the NASB. They do this because they prefer one translation over another. Despite this being quite common, I’ve never seen a Gospel Coalition article condemning people for preferring the ESV or people writing books about people who only read the ESV. What this reveals is that the issue, at least when considered broadly, is not with people only reading one translation, the problem is with the KJV itself. So when somebody says, “I just have an issue with people who only read the KJV because they believe all of the other translations are bad,” they are really saying that they just don’t like that people read the KJV. It’s okay if somebody only reads the ESV, just not the KJV.

The problem is not with the “Onlyist” part of KJVO, it’s the “KJV” part of KJVO. Ironically, when I was in the critical text crowd, I constantly saw people bickering, especially on behalf of the NASB, about how their choice translation is the BEST translation. This may be news for some people, but it’s okay to have an opinion about which translation is best. It demonstrates that somebody cares about the words on the page of their Bible. It’s actually more concerning, in my opinion, when people give so little concern about the words in their Bible that they actually think all Bibles are made equal. This is drawn to its absurd end when respectable scholars such as Andrew Naselli defend the MSG in a textbook marketed to Reformed Christians. If somebody says it is more profitable to read the MSG than the KJV, what would you say the real issue is? If Naselli and the critical text advocate’s only issue is “Onlyism,” I’d like to see a chapter dedicated in the next “Reformed” textbook about why “ESV Onlyism” is heresy. Of course they won’t because the issue isn’t with “Onlyism,” it’s with the KJV.

KJV Onlyism is Bad Because it Rejects Modern Translations

The premise of this argument assumes that modern translations are not bad, or that somebody is not allowed to believe that modern translations are bad. This again, is absurd. The scholars who claim to specialize in this topic, such as Mark Ward and Dan Wallace, admit as much when they say there are no perfectly accurate modern translations. They write this off as the inevitability of sinners having produced them, but secular scholars accurately translate things all the time. Modern Scholars talk about modern translations like a mother talks lovingly about her child who got held back two years in grade school. “He’s gets the answers wrong a lot, but he has a huge heart and has a lot to offer in other areas.”

If the modern Bible translations, by admission of the scholars, get it wrong a lot, why is it so absurd when people choose something else? If the top scholars tell Christians that reading all modern translations is profitable because none of them get it 100% right, is it possible that the “KJVO” crowd might be onto something? Who am I kidding though, it might pain a modern critical text advocate to be overly charitable to people who read the KJV or admit that a gap-toothed KJVO might be correct about something. This again highlights that the real issue that the modern critical text advocate has is with the KJV and nothing else.

Further, people that don’t read the KJV reject modern translations all the time. There is a reason John MacArthur made his own translation rather than subjecting himself to the NASB 2020. Is John MacArthur now a Legacy Bible onlyist? Should somebody write treatises against him too? I’d like to see Mark Ward issue a “sincere” offer to John MacArthur like he did to Trinitarian Bible Society to convince him to change his ways. Since rejecting translations is common in the modern critical text crowd, it seems reasonable to say that rejecting Bible translations isn’t the unforgiveable sin of somebody who reads the KJV. As one would expect, reading the KJV is the unforgiveable sin of the person who reads the KJV.


Whenever I interact with people who think they doing the world a service by eradicating “KJV Onlyists” from the face of the earth, it always comes to light that they aren’t actually talking about “KJV Onlyism.” I run a somewhat-popular blog in the “KJV Only” world and I have only ever had one person in support of Peter Ruckman comment on my blog or YouTube. Ultimately, the term “KJVO” is just another tool for people to bludgeon people on the internet. If you actually make somebody define what they mean by “KJVO,” they are simply talking about people who read the King James. The great sin of only reading one translation, despite being something that many people do, is only wrong when that one translation is the KJV.

I have pointed this out before on this blog, but the “KJV Onlyists” seem to be the only people that are actually paying attention to what the scholars are saying. Scholars are praised for saying the same exact thing that “King James Onlyists” are saying. The “KJV Onlyist” will say that all modern translations have error, and that is why they read the KJV. Dan Wallace will say the same thing and he gets invited to speak in your churches and seminaries. So what makes the “KJV Onlyist” different than Dan Wallace? Dan Wallace doesn’t read the KJV. The problem that modern critical text advocates have is not with “KJV Onlyism,” it is with the KJV.

“We do not have now – in any of our critical Greek texts or in any translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.”

Elijah Hixson & Peter Gurry. Myths & Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. xii. Quote by Dan Wallace.

The real problem is when somebody believes that the theology behind the above Dan Wallace quote is less dangerous than believing than God has preserved His Word and the KJV is an accurate translation of it. Perhaps we will see some scholars writing treatises about that in the future, but I won’t hold my breath.

3 Terrible Reasons You Should Trust Modern Evangelical English Bible Translations


I recently watched this video by Mark Ward entitled, “3 Reasons Why You Should Trust Modern Evangelical English Bible Translations” and thought it would be helpful to write an article demonstrating just how ridiculous these points are. Without any further introduction, I will evaluate each of his reasons which are as follows:

  1. You have to
  2. Trustworthy people made them
  3. Trustworthy people use them

You Have to Trust Modern Evangelical Bible Translations

The simple and obvious answer to Ward’s first point is that no, you actually don’t have to trust or use any modern Bible versions. Now, Ward may have meant that “you have to trust a Bible translator” as he talks about that briefly, but the video says “3 Reasons Why You Should Trust Modern Evangelical Bible Translations.” So if point one is, “because you have to,” it’s clearly wrong. I have read the NIV, ESV, HCSB (CSB), and NASB and I can happily say I will never be returning to them other than for research. Most of my scripture memorization is in the ESV, and in my opinion, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on compared to the KJV.

The basic point Ward makes here is that everybody, for the most part, has to trust a translator of some sort, so why not trust a modern translator? If you don’t know Greek and Hebrew, then you can’t actually make a determination one way or the other as to the quality of a translation. On that point, he is only correct in that most people don’t know Hebrew and Greek. He is wrong when he acts as a Gatekeeper to the conversation, telling Christians that if they do not know the original languages, then they cannot know if a translation is trustworthy. Using a slightly different and better argument, Christians can know if a translation is trustworthy by looking at the scholarship (not the scholar) of other Christians. Christians do not have to understand Hebrew and Greek if they are able to read an accurate analysis of the Hebrew and Greek in their original tongue.

Further, Ward tries to normalize the idea that Bible translations cannot be “perfect”, or rather, do not contain translational errors. This is a common strategy used by men of the Critical Text. They make the equivocation between “perfect” and “accurate”. A Bible can be 100% accurately translated, and why would Christians want to be comfortable with a Bible that isn’t? If it is discovered that a translation has made an error, it should be fixed in the next edition, right? Shouldn’t we hold these trustworthy men to that standard? They have a text before them in one language, and their task is to translate it into a target language. The expectation isn’t that a translation come out of the translators committee perfect on the first go, but shouldn’t it get there eventually? Greek and Hebrew are languages that can be known and translated, and if Mark Ward thinks something has been translated incorrectly in the Bible he reads, why doesn’t he tell all of his translator friends that they made an error so they can fix it? Apparently having a poorly translated Bible is something Christians should just accept. Why would a Bible version that isn’t accurately translated, by Mark Ward’s own admission, be considered trustworthy? This seems to actually be an argument against his point.

Trustworthy People Made Modern Evangelical Translations

In this segment of the video, Ward appeals to the character of the people on various translation teams to demonstrate why we should trust modern versions. According to Ward, somebody being able to hike the Grand Canyon and having a good sense of humor are among some of the reasons to trust a Bible translation. Plainly stated, it is remarkably absurd to say that we should trust a Bible because the person who translated it virtuous Christian. There are plenty of trustworthy people in the church that have error in one area or another. It is astounding that an argument like this could even make a list of 3 items. According to Ward, if a Bible translation is made by somebody trustworthy, the translation therefore must be trustworthy.

If this is the case, let’s take Dan Wallace, who Mark Ward lists as a trustworthy source for whether a Bible translation is trustworthy or not, at his own words.

“We do not have now – in any of our critical Greek texts or in any translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.”

Dan Wallace

According to Mark Ward, the trustworthiness of our Bibles should be at least in part based on the trustworthiness of the scholars who created them and use them. If this is the case, it seems that there actually aren’t any Bibles that can be trusted. In opposition to Ward’s conclusion, if we are to trust these men, it doesn’t appear the Modern Evangelical Bible translations are trustworthy at all if we as Christians are concerned with exactly what Paul wrote.

Trustworthy People Use Modern English Bible Translations

This is the same form of argument as the second point on Mark Ward’s list, only it is applied to those that use these Bibles as opposed to those who created those Bibles. Ward appeals to the Holy Spirit for this argument to say that God would not let so many Christians read a bad text. I don’t have to engage further because Ward actually refutes his own argument in the video itself when discussing a pamphlet called “Trusted Voices on Translation”.

“It doesn’t prove that any given Modern English Bible translation is trustworthy, it shows only that countless Evangelical luminaries of the past, thought it was possible to trust the KJV and newer translations of their day”

The same thing can be said about Ward’s argument in this video. According to Ward, if a trustworthy Christian uses a Bible translation, then that translation must be trustworthy. All Ward has demonstrated is that people he trusts made and read modern translations.

His argument can be further refuted by using his own logic when he says that a translation cannot be perfect because the people translating are sinners. By this logic we can easily say that a Christian can’t be the determining factor in whether a Bible is trustworthy because they are a sinner! If a sinner can be wrong in translation, they can be wrong in discernment too, and Ward’s argument again falls to the ground. It’s not God’s fault that a sinner is imperfect, and we don’t hastily blame God for the sins of men. I’m not saying that reading an ESV makes somebody a sinner, just that if we are to assume Ward’s premise of sinful men making errors in translation, we can apply it readily to sinful men making errors in which Bible translation they read.


In short, a response to Ward’s three points can be answered in much less words than I’ve written here. I’ll end by answering Ward’s argument simply.

Do Christians have to trust modern bible translations, because, well they have to?


Do Christians have to trust modern bible translations because the scholars who produced them are trustworthy?


Do Christians have to trust modern bible translations because people that use them are trustworthy?


As far as I can tell, this video said nothing of significance other than, “Trust the scholars and the people who trust the scholars.” I for one am not convinced by this presentation, and I would argue that nobody should be. The scholars and people that use Modern Evangelical Bible translations may very well be trustworthy, but that has nothing to do with whether or not a translation is trustworthy. And if we do adopt Ward’s arguments as true, we have to also adopt Ward’s arguments as false simultaneously! Ultimately it comes down to what threshold we set for a translation being considered trustworthy, and Ward has set the bar extraordinarily low.

I’ll end by leaving my reader with an analogy. I am a software analyst. If I were to commit code to our production servers at work, the company I work for expects that code to work. They would expect that I have tested every line of my code. They would expect that I wouldn’t release code with errors in it. They expect it to be trustworthy. If I submitted code and it breaks the application, I’d have to answer for it. If my response to my boss was, “There are many, many places in which my code is uncertain,” I’d be fired or at the very least reprimanded for knowingly releasing bad code. It doesn’t matter how virtuous, nice, or agreeable I am. It doesn’t matter how trustworthy I am.

When it comes to our Bibles, we have to be willing to hold our translators to at least the same standard that a secular company holds its employees to, even if they do happen to be the nicest and funniest and well-meaning people in the whole of the world. Christians should have higher standards than the world, not lower, and if I can’t get away with this kind of work in my day job, why should we give translators a pass for something far more important such as the translated Word of God that Christians use daily? Is this really our standard? Because somebody is trustworthy we ignore their work product? It is undiscerning and unwise to admit that the translational work product isn’t perfect and then give a pass simply because the men who made the translations are well intentioned, trustworthy people. If you want people to trust modern bible translations, it would make sense to stop advertising them as “imperfect” and then appealing to the Christian character of the people that made them.

Quickly Dismissing the Septuagint(s)


One of the most common places of confusion when it comes to The Textual Discussion as it pertains to the Old Testament is how the Septuagint (LXX) should be viewed. I wrote a lengthy article back in 2019 on the topic, but I thought it would be profitable to scale it down and transform it into a more digestible article. There are really three major categories that need to be addressed when discussing the Septuagint: Theology, Text, and Translation.


The first topic that needs to be addressed as it pertains to the LXX is how it is to be viewed theologically. At the object level, the Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew. So the theological implication of using the LXX as an authoritative text is that utilizing translations as authoritative is acceptable. Practically speaking, this means that the Ruckmanite doctrine shouldn’t be particularly offensive to those that believe the Septuagint is authoritative. If the LXX, a translation, can be considered authoritative, then so too can the KJV. Theologically, using the KJV as an authoritative text and using the Septuagint as an authoritative text are categorically the same.

Additionally, in order for the LXX to be viewed as authoritative, one must believe that it is more authoritative than the Hebrew original. The common argument for using the LXX as authoritative is that the New Testament quotes “the LXX”. This is a poor argument, however, because the New Testament is written in Greek, and therefore any quotations of the Hebrew Old Testament would be “the Septuagint”. The basic argument is that since the Apostles quoted it, the text they quoted must be inspired. If that is the case, there are some pagan authors Paul quotes that we should probably sew into our Bibles. The Apostolic use of a text does not make a text inspired, the text is inspired by God. So then the logical conclusion of both of these arguments is that Ruckmanite KJV Onlyism is perfectly acceptable by the Modern Critical Text position and that texts are inspired by virtue of Apostolic use. Both are unorthodox and absurd. The Scriptures were immediately inspired by God in Greek and Hebrew and translations are mediately inspired insofar as they accurately reflect those original, immediately inspired texts.


If we can establish that the theological premise for using the LXX as more authoritative than the Hebrew is unorthodox and inconsistent, then the rest of the discussion is easy. In terms of the text, the LXX is to be viewed as any other translation. Where it translates accurately from the Hebrew original, it is perfectly acceptable to use, just like any other translation. In the places that it departs, the LXX should not be used. One might say that this is an issue, since the Apostles used a text that is seemingly different than the original Hebrew, but when evaluated these differences can be explained by way of translational nuance and loose quotation practices common in the early church.

Ultimately, translations should be used consistently across the board. We must apply the same standard that every Christian uses for evaluating a translation to the LXX, a Greek translation of the Hebrew. I know “consistency” is a fruit of the spirit in some corners of the Reformed world, so this should be especially acceptable to all. One final note on the text of the LXX is that it contains apocryphal books and additional text. If the text is authoritative, should not also be the apocryphal books? Should we take “Bel and the Dragon” into our modern texts at the end of Daniel? If the LXX is authoritative, than I don’t see why not. What argument that states the LXX is authoritative can then reject that all of the LXX must be authoritative? It cannot be done consistently, only arbitrarily. The only way that this conclusion could be avoided would be if there was a master copy of the LXX that could be identified as “The LXX” in addition to the Hebrew text it was translated from. We do not have either.


The idea that a translation should not be used as authoritative over the original text is extremely uncontroversial, except for in Ruckmanite and Modern Critical Text circles. The easiest appeal to people who think it acceptable to use a translation to override the authority of the original is simply to appeal to the fact that by doing so, they are actually just committing the same error as the people they demonize. What problem does the person who thinks the LXX is more authoritative than the original have with the person that thinks the KJV is more authoritative than the original? At least the Ruckmanite can say he can consistently reject “Bel and the Dragon” as Scripture. The conversation over textual data actually does not matter, because the form of the argument is a Pandora’s box of absurdity and theological error.

So the LXX should be used in the same way that other translations are used – as a way to consult other interpretations of how a text should be translated. Bible translators use other translations all the time in translation, and so too can the LXX be used for such a purpose.


The discussion of the Septuagint is quite simple. It is a translation and should be used in the same way all other translations are used. If somebody wishes to use it as authoritative, then they have no reason to critique the Ruckmanite. There is nothing complex about how we are to understand the Septuagint when we create correct category distinctions and compare those distinctions against our Bibliology. Translations are only authoritative insofar as they agree with the original. If we untether our translations from the original, there isn’t a tether to any objective reality that defines Scripture, only speculation. That is the same view set forth in Westminster as well as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. So unless the LXX enthusiasts wish to allow for the Ruckmanite category of Bibliology into the fold of orthodoxy, the conversation over the LXX is moot. The controversy over the LXX is actually not a controversy at all, when we apply categories and theology consistently.

Quotes That Everybody Should Copy and Paste on Any Post About Textual Criticism


Have you ever wanted to disperse the crowd of Critical Text enthusiasts from a Facebook feed? Here are some quotes that should help you demonstrate to the fool his folly.

The Modern Critical Text is Not the Original, Inspired Text

“We do not have now – in any of our critical Greek texts or in any translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.”

Elijah Hixson & Peter Gurry. Myths & Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. xii. Quote by Dan Wallace.

“I do not believe that God is under any obligation to preserve every detail of Scripture for us, even though he granted us good access to the text of the New Testament.”

Dirk Jongkind. An Introduction to the Greek New Testament. 90.

The CBGM Isn’t Going to Give Us the Original Text

“I do not think the method is of any value for establishing the text of the New Testament”

Bengt Alexanderson. Problems in the New Testament: Old Manuscripts and Papyri, the New Coherence-Based-Genealogical Method (CBGM) and the Editio Critica Maior (ECM). 117.

“The reason is that there is a methodological gap between the start of the textual tradition as we have it and the text of the autograph itself. Any developments between these two points are outside the remit of textual criticism proper. Where there is “no trace [of the original text] in the manuscript tradition” the text critic must, on Mink’s terms, remain silent.” 

Peter Gurry. A Critical Examination of the Coherence based Genealogical Method. 93.

“Many of us would feel that Initial Text – if inadequately defined and therefore open to be understood as the First Text or Starting Text in an absolute sense – suggests greater certainty than our knowledge of transmission warrants.”

Eldon J. Epp. Which Text?. 70.

“In all, there were in the Catholic Letters thirty-two uses of brackets compared to forty-three uses of the diamond and in Acts seventy-eight cases of brackets compared to 155 diamonds. This means that there has been an increase in both the number of places marked as uncertain and an increase in the level of uncertainty being marked. Overall, then, this reflects a slightly greater uncertainty about the earliest text on the part of the editors.”   

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. 7.

“At best, pregenealogical coherence [computer] only tells us how likely it is that a variant had multiple sources of origin rather than just one…pregenealogical coherence is only one piece of the text-critical puzzle. The other pieces – knowledge of scribal tendencies, the date and quality of manuscripts, versions, and patristic citations, and the author’s theology and style are still required…As with so much textual criticism, there are no absolute rules here, and experience serves as the best guide

Peter Gurry & Tommy Wasserman. A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. 56,57. Emphasis mine.

Articles on the CBGM

The Initial Text is Not the Authorial or Original Text

“The New Testament philologist’s task is not to recover an original authorial text, not only because we cannot at present know on philological grounds what the original text might have been, nor even because there may have been several forms to the tradition, but because philology is not able to make a pronouncement as to whether or not there was such an authorial text”

DC Parker. Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament. 27.

“But we need not then believe that the Initial Text is an authorial text, or a definitive text, or the only form in which the works once circulated”

DC Parker. Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament. 29.

What Textual Scholars Believe About Scripture

“In practice New Testament textual critics today tend to be Christians themselves, but not always. It does not matter, for the quality of their work does not depend on their faith but on their adherence to academic standards.”

Jan Krans. October 22, 2020.

“I should add a word of warning, that in the case of biblical research and bibliography will inevitably find theology dragged into it at some point. Where a text is revered by some people as divinely inspired, in some cases as verbally precise pronouncement by an all-powerful God, or even at its least dramatic when it is viewed as a helpful guide for daily life, the findings of the bibliographer may be of particular importance. And in case we get too carried away with the importance of penmanship and of the texts by which it is preserved, let us remember that our codices are not all in all, and may be no more than a byproduct of our lives”

DC Parker. Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament. 30,31.

“We are trying to piece together a puzzle with only some of the pieces.”

Peter Gurry. A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. 112.

The Textus Receptus Was the Text of the Protestant Reformation

“Historically speaking, the Textus Receptus was the Greek New Testament of the Reformation.”

Jan Krans. October 22, 2020.

“Beza acquired a very high status in Protestant and especially Calvinist circles during his lifetime and in the first generations after him. His Greek text was not contested but faithfully reprinted; through the Elzevir editions it was elevated to the status of ‘received text’, textus receptus. ”

Jan Krans. Beyond What is Written. 197.

Article: No, Beza Was Not Doing Modern Textual Criticism

The Reformed Did Not Believe, As Modern Scholars Do, That “The Original” Meant the Lost Autographs

“By the original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit”

Francis Turretin. Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. I, 106.

Hopefully this gives you some helpful ammunition when dealing with people who reject that God has given His Word to His people.