Amazing things you hear on Christian Radio

I was driving to the hospital yesterday listening to the local Christian radio station. Somebody (I listened, but never heard who) was explaining why his Bible was better than the one person who had called in preferred.

“The New American Standard,” he said, “is based on the Nestle Text, where the King James is based on the Textus Receptus. And the Textus Receptus is a more pristine text.”

(Pristine? I’m reminded of the Monty Python “Cheese Shop” sketch. [See here if you’ve never had the pleasure of watching it.] The proprietor says his shop, which is out of dozens of kinds of cheese, is nevertheless “the finest in the district.” The customer demands that he “explain the logic underlying that conclusion.” The shopkeeper replies, “It’s so clean!” To which the customer replies, “It’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese!” The TR may be pristine, but reality is messy.)

This “expert” went on to prove his point by citing Revelation 12:18-13:1, which may be merged in your Bible into a single verse 13:1.) The Nestle text says estathe (“he stood”) while TR says estathen (“I stood”). The difference is a single letter, like the difference between “he” and “she” in English. So either the dragon stood on the beach and watched the beast coming up out of the sea, or the author did.

1. Is this a major theological topic? Really? Does this level of difference really matter, or is this a case of hair-splitting (and probably mint-tithing) Protestant Scholasticism? How does it really matter whether the dragon stood watching or John did? (No. I take that back. Spare me. Please!)

2. The reading “I stood” is supported by the Byzantine Majority Text, Latin Vulgate, and others. The reading “He stood” is supported by P47, a 2nd century papyrus, in addition to the codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus.

In short, the King James reading is a fine translation of an inferior text. (Pristine though it may be.) The most popular evangelical translations all have “he/the dragon” as, of course, do the more scholarly translations like the NRSV and the NAB.

(For more about the TR read these summaries of its history, its critics, and its defenders (links within one longer article).)

I feel for the people who have no better resources to turn to than Christian talk radio. Bummer for them. And shame on the flat-earthers who continue to support the TR.