Without fail, anytime that I bring up my preference for the Textus Receptus and the King James Version, I receive responses from people who assume that my position is based solely on a philosophical argument. I suppose that they are somewhat justified in coming to that conclusion, for most defenders of the TR and the KJV deal only with the philosophical arguments and seem to forget that their position has some very strong evidential support. The thing that I enjoy about Burgon's work is that he does not make this mistake. Burgon presents the philosophical arguments as a means of revealing the premises of both sides' arguments, and then he focuses most of his effort on testing those premises against the available evidence. In part 2 of my series, I presented Burgon's evidential analysis of Luke 2:14. My outline of Burgon's argument is provided below, and you can read his full statement beginning on page 41 of The Revision Revised.
I. The English Text
A. KJV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
B. ESV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is
II The Greek Text
A. TR – “ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία”
B. CT – “ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας”
C. Only a single letter is different.
III. On the Critical Text Reading – “ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας”
A. εὐδοκίας (good will) is a noun not a verb
B. There is no legitimate way to make this phrase say “among those with whom he is pleased!”
C. Literal translation: “toward men of good will” or “toward good will’s men.”
IV. A Possible Explanation for the Origin of the CT Reading
A. At some point in the past, someone forgot to write the ἐν at the beginning of this phrase.
- We have Latin translations of this error.
B. The ς was added at the end of εὐδοκία to try to make sense of this error.
. C. Then the ἐν was added back in when the source of the error was realized.
- But they forgot to take out the ς.
V. Manuscript Support for the CT Reading
A. The ς is found only in: Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Bezae.
B. In the verses leading up to 14, these four disagree with each other 56 times and they disagree
with all of the other manuscripts 70 times.
C. The four manuscripts with the ς are the oldest manuscripts.
- They are not the oldest witnesses.
VI. Evidence Supporting the TR Reading
A. Sinaiticus and Vaticanus were physically corrected in this passage.
B. Alexandrinus also contains an old Christian hymn which quotes the phrase without the ς on the
C. Most of the versions or ancient translations agree with the Textus Receptus.
- Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and Arabian all agree.
- Latin and Gothic do not.
D. All of the ancient lectionaries agree with the TR.
E. All of the church fathers agree with the TR.
- 2nd century: Irenaeus.
- 3rd century: Origen and the Apostolical Constitutions.
- 4th century: Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, and 9 others.
- 5th century: Cyril, the Council of Ephesus, and 5 others.
- A total of 47 between the 2nd and 8th centuries.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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