Why are there differences between the Textus Receptus (KJV) and modern bibles

24/02/2020 10:12am by Jay Rhoden

Due to recent discoveries of Greek manuscripts, today we have access to a larger number of Greek manuscripts than were available when the KJV bible was translated.

At the time of translation of the KJV bible, a Greek text had been composed using the manuscripts that were available at the time. The Greek text is commonly referred to as the Textus Receptus. There were four editions of the Textus Receptus. It is interesting to note that when the Textus Receptus was first created, a Greek text of the book of Revelation was not available. So the Greek of Revelation found in the Textus Receptus was initially a composition of a Greek language bible commentary on Revelation. Where the commentary was missing Greek verses of Revelation, the Greek verses were created by translating back from latin in to greek.

Today we have a a larger number of greek manuscripts, including some very valuable and important manuscripts that were real bibles used by real Christians in real churches in the early church. These discoveries have lead to bible societies creating newer Greek bibles based on these new discoveries. One is named the UBS (United Bible Societies) text, and one is the NA28 (Nestle-Aland) text.

The discovery of these manuscripts has forced the need of a genuine discussion with regards to how we deal with these newly discovered manuscripts. The main area of debate focusses on what weight or value we place on various Greek manuscripts. For example, some manuscripts may be closer to the time of Jesus, but the copyist is clearly making occasional copying errors, another manuscript might be dated further away from the time of Jesus, but appears to be copied more reliably. But perhaps the copyist of this more accurately copied manuscript was using a less reliable source text?

The vast majority of differences in the early Greek manuscripts come down to matters of style. For example, it is clear that copyist or composer for the manuscript we label as ’D’ has a propensity to add the word ‘and’ (και) to the text, perhaps for stylistic purposes. For this reason it is generally considered that D is not a perfect word for word replica of an earlier text, but aside from this, the copyist is considered fairly reliable, so the actual contents of the text are considered to be valuable in terms of our search for the original ‘autograph’ — the words of the original author.