A Dark Day for KJV Onlyists . . .

On this day in Christian History:

May 17, 1881 — The Revised Version (RV or ERV) of the New Testament was first published in England. The Old Testament was completed in 1885. In 1905 the American Standard Version (ASV) — based on the textual foundation of the ERV–was published in the U. S.


Lately, I’ve been reading Kim Riddlebarger’s doctoral dissertation on B. B. Warfield, which partially discusses his interest in the burgeoning field of higher criticism. The “Lion of Princeton” was convinced that this methodology would help recover the original text of the Bible, and could also be useful in demonstrating the inerrancy of Scripture, if it’s used objectively!Warfield recognized, however, that due to the concurrent rise of evolutionary scientific naturalism, most European scholars were not using higher criticism objectively, and that goes, I’m sure, to some extent, for Westcott and Hort, the men who spearheaded the 1881 Revised Version’s “Critical New Testament,” but were, in fact, subjectively looking at the facts from their naturalistic viewpoint. In other words, having a prior committment to the idea that God has not inspired or preserved an inerrant canon of Scripture, the vast majority of liberal higher critics were too often using this inductive scientific method to destroy Christian orthodox confession regarding its Sacred Text. However, even as blind squirrels often find nuts, the advent of Westcott and Hort’s critical text did at least manage to break the Byzantine Text’s undue dominance in the church’s understanding of the transmission of the New Testament.


On this side of the pond, Warfield’s use of higher criticism contributed to his influence in the modern evangelical understanding of the inerrancy of Scripture! So you see, higher criticism is neutral and can aid us in the search for truth when used in an objective manner; at least that was Warfield’s conviction.

It is true that theories come and go, including some of the theories of Westcott and Hort and the liberal higher critics. But if we are committed to Christian orthodoxy, and with Anselm, “believe in order to understand,” we will find that, in part, through the ordinary means of higher textual criticism, God has providentially allowed us to arrive at a far closer proximity to the original text of Scripture than we’ve ever reached before!

Happy Birthday, Revised Version and all modern English translations!

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One response

  1. Fundamentally Reformed | Reply


    I absolutely agree that “higher criticism can be used objectively. In fact I believe a distinction is made between “higher criticism” and “lower critism”. The former deals with form analysis, authorship, and other things while the latter merely deals with the form of the text. The former is much more theologically loaded, with a greater impetus to be biased, while the latter, for the most part, is fairly neutral. This is not to say that some have not furthered heterodoxical goals through “lower criticism”–think the New World Translation and the like. However, this is to say that with the advancement of textual criticism and our development in the understanding of the lexicography and syntax of Greek and Hebrew (advances beyond the knowledge available in 1611 [or even 1769]) we do have a text which is substantially closer to the original than we had before, by the grace of God.

    So, Happy Birthday indeed!

    Thanks for the post. God bless.

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