Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation Exposing the Message, Men
and Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion,
covers a very wide variety of subjects which are important but tangential to textual criticism in its first four
sections. Finally at page 464, something
like a sustained focus upon New Testament textual criticism begins to
materialize. I intend via this post to test the accuracy of this book’s contents beginning at that point; I have
no intention of adding anything here to the author’s critiques of some modern
versions, or her warnings against the heresies of Helena P. Blavatsky
New Age Movement, etc
., which can be
found in the earlier segment of the book.
34, “The Majority Text,” the author used quotations from Wilbur Pickering and John
Burgon (both of whom, while opposing the 1881 Westcott-Hort compilation,
reject some readings in the Textus Receptus
the New Testament base-text of the KJV).
She seems to believe that the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus
are the same thing, and readers might be
forgiven for drawing such a conclusion in light of sentences such as the one
found on page 471: referring to the
Byzantine Text, Riplinger states, “This text type is available today in English
in the Authorized Version
, or as it
is called in the United States, the King
.” That is not 100% true: when the Byzantine Text (as
printed in the Robinson-Pierpont
2005 ed.), representing the contents of most Greek
manuscripts, is compared to the Textus
, there are some translatable differences. With apologies for veering away from my main subject, here are some examples:
● Matthew 8:15
manuscripts end the verse by stating that Peter’s mother-in-law served “Him”
(αὐτω) rather than “them” (αὐτοις), the TR reading.
● Matthew 18:19: after πάλιν, most manuscripts have ἀμὴν, so
as to read “Verily” or “Assuredly.”
● Mark 4:4: most manuscripts do not have “of the air”
Mark 4:9: most manuscripts do not have “to them”
Luke 6:10: most manuscripts say αὐτῷ (“him”) rather than
τῷ ἀνθρώπῷ (“the man”).
Luke 7:31: most manuscripts do not have the phrase “And
the Lord said” (Ειπεν δε ὁ Κύριος) at the beginning of this verse.
Luke 8:3: most manuscripts say that the women
ministered “to them” (αὐτοις) instead of “to Him” (αὐτω).
Luke 23:25: most manuscripts do not say that Barabbas was
released “to them” (αὐτοις).
John 2:22: most manuscripts do not say “to them”
John 7:33: most manuscripts do not say “to them”
John 20:29: most manuscripts do not have Thomas’ name
(Θωμᾶ) in this verse.
Acts 7:37: most manuscripts do not have the words “him
you shall hear” (αὐτοῦ ἀκούσεσθε).
Acts 9:5-6: in most manuscripts, there is no base-text
for the words, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.’ And he trembling and astonished said, ‘Lord,
what wilt thou have me to do?’ And the
Lord said unto him.” (These words in the
KJV appear to have been based on a harmonization to the similar passage in Acts
Acts 10:6: most manuscripts provide no base-text for the
KJV’s phrase “He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
Acts 15:11: most manuscripts do not include the word
Acts 15:34: most manuscripts provide no base-text for
this entire verse.
Ephesians 3:9: most manuscripts read οἰκονομία
(“dispensation”) instead of κοινωνια (“fellowship”).
Philippians 4:3: most manuscripts read Ναι (“Yes”) instead of
Και (“And”) at the beginning of this verse.
Colossians 1:6: most manuscripts include the words καὶ
αὐξανόμενον (“and growing”), a phrase which would be vulnerable to accidental
loss due to its occurrence between the words καρποφορούμενον and καθως.
Second Timothy 1:18: most manuscripts do not include μοι (unto
Second Timothy 2:19: most manuscripts read Κυρίου (“the Lord”)
instead of Χριστου (“Christ”) at the end of this verse.
Titus 2:8: most manuscripts refer to things said about
“us” (ἡμῶν) instead of “you”
Hebrews 2:7: most manuscripts have no base-text for the
final phrase, “And did set him over the works of Your hands.”
most manuscripts do not include the phrase
ταις ἐν Ἀσία (“which are in Asia
Revelation 2:22: most manuscripts read αυτης instead of αυτων,
so as to refer to repentance from “her” works, rather than “their” works.
Revelation 4:11: in most manuscripts, the twenty-four refer to
“our Lord and our God” (ὁ Κύριος καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν), instead of referring to Him
as “O Lord” (Κύριε).
Revelation 6:1: most manuscripts include the word “seven”
(ἑπτα) before “seals.”
Revelation 6:12: most manuscripts refer to the “whole moon”
(σελήνη ὅλη), not just to “the moon.”
Revelation 8:13: most manuscripts refer to an eagle (ἀετου)
rather than to an angel (ἀγγέλου) here.
Revelation 15:3: most manuscripts end the verse with a
reference to the King “of the nations” (ἑθνῶν) instead of “of the saints”
(More (but far from all) differences
between the Textus Receptus
majority of manuscripts may be noticed via a consultation of the textual
footnotes in the NKJV.)
states (p. 475) that “The variations among the Majority Text are minor.” However, many such variations, such as the
ones I just listed, are translatable, whether interpreters consider them
“minor” or not. The Nestle-Aland compilation
disagrees with the Byzantine Text much more, and this tends to justify
Riplinger’s description of the Nestle-Aland compilation as a text based on 1%
of the extant manuscripts. But the Textus Receptus still has some readings
of its own that have only a small percentage of manuscripts in their favor.
478-479, Riplinger is almost simultaneously on and off target: she notes that, as D. A. mentioned, “95% of
the manuscripts belong to the Byzantine tradition,” but just one page later,
she claims, “the KJV readings represent the earliest known manuscripts (i.e.,
P66 A.D. 175).” This latter statement is
true of a relatively small number of readings in P66, but it is not true in general;
P66 agrees much more frequently with the Alexandrian Text than with the
35, “The Earliest Manuscripts,”
Riplinger presents data drawn from the work of Wilbur Pickering
, as well as
quotations from as assortment of text-critical researchers (including Zuntz,
Metzger, and Colwell) in which it is acknowledged that early papyri contain
some distinct Byzantine readings – a fact which practically dismantles Hort’s
foundational basis for rejecting the Byzantine Text.
There can be no serious denial of the
veracity of the simple charts that Riplinger presents on pages 484-485, in
which papyrus support is listed for 23 Byzantine readings.
critiquing the NASB due to its tendency to favor shorter readings in Luke 24
(an effect of Hort’s theory about “Western Non-interpolations”) – making
several strong points in the process – Riplinger oversimplifies the testimony
of a few important early versions when she says that the Sinaitic Syriac, the
Gothic version, and the Peshitta “agree with the KJV.” The Gothic version and the Peshitta tend to
agree with the Byzantine Text, but this tendency is by no means total;
meanwhile the Sinaitic Syriac is certainly not a consistent ally of the
Byzantine Text, let alone of the Textus
Receptus. Similarly, Riplinger
describes Codex A and Codex W as if they both support the KJV, but while this
is true of portions of each manuscript, it is also untrue of other portions of
makes a serious error on page 489. Small
spelling errors – such as referring to Diognetus as “Diognelus” and referring
to Macarius Magnes as “Macarius Magnus” – might be overlooked, but the claim,
“P66 has predominantly KJV readings” is simply ridiculous; P66 has some readings that agree with the Textus Receptus but this is certainly
not a “predominant” characteristic of the text of P66.
36, Riplinger describes the Nestle-Aland compilation (Novum Testamentum Graece) and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament as if they contain a
consistently truncated, shortened form of the text. Riplinger thus seems to assume that the Textus Receptus ought to be the standard
of comparison, as if, when we come to a short reading in the Nestle-Aland
compilation where there is a longer reading in the Textus Receptus, we ought to assume that something is missing in
the Nestle-Aland compilation, rather than that something has been added to the Textus Receptus. Hort, Nestle, and most textual critics of the
1900s tended to work from the opposite assumption, generally using “prefer the shorter reading” as a major
guideline. Recent research has shown
that copyists tended to make more omissions than additions (thus nullifying
what was for generations a common assumption among textual critics) – but it
remains precarious to settle contests on the basis of generalizations; there
are some cases (for instance, in James 4:12 and Jude v. 25) in which the
Alexandrian Text has a reading longer than what is in the TR and the Byzantine
description of the UBS edition, Riplinger makes a strong case for the idea that
the UBS Greek New Testament as it is
currently printed is largely a Roman Catholic project carried out with an
ecumenical agenda. However, a tint of
propaganda blots her point when she refers to the editors’ use of “their
Gnostic Vatican manuscript.” Vaticanus’
text perpetuates a few readings that may reflect the influence of early
heretics such as the Gnostics, but their Gnostic-ness is contestable and they
are quite rare.
Riplinger presents 23 passages – all from the Epistles of Paul – which, she
proposes, show that in the base-text of the NIV and NASB the compilers have
“used random minority text type readings when an opportunity arose to present
New Age philosophy or demote God or Christ.”
Here on pages 499-502 we meet something to support the book’s title that
is potentially more substantial than stories about a textual critic being
bitten by Helena P. Blavatsky’s friend’s daughter’s dog; there is textual evidence
to consider. So let’s consider it. My purpose here is not to settle every
textual contest in the list, but to test Riplinger’s charge that the base-text
of the NIV, NASB, etc., promote doctrines of the New Age movement in these
I Cor. 7:15: NA
reads ὑμᾶς where the TR, Byz, P46 and B read ἡμᾶς. What difference has this made in English
translations? KJV: “God hath called us to peace.” NASB: “God has called us to peace.” NIV: “God has called us to live in peace.” CSB: “God
has called you to live in peace.”
ESV: “God has called you to peace.” NASB: “God
has called us to peace,” with a note
that means the reading “you.” Obviously
one reading is original and the other one is not, but where is the New Age
philosophy in either one?
I Cor. 8:3: NA and the TR both include τὸν θεόν, which is
not included in P46. What difference has
this made in English translations?
KJV: “But if any man love God.” NASB:
“But if anyone loves God.” NIV:
“But whoever loves God.” ESV:
“But if anyone loves God.” NASB: “But
if anyone loves God.” Where is the New
Age philosophy supposed to be?
I Cor. 10:9: NA reads Χριστόν with the TR, Byz, and P46
where the previous edition of NA read Κυριον, with ℵ B C. This interchange of sacred names causes a
difference in meaning in English:
KJV: “Neither let us tempt Christ.” NASB:
“Nor let us try the Lord.” NIV: “We should not test Christ.” ESV: “We
must not put Christ to the test.” As in the first example, there is an obvious
difference, but where is the exchange of a true statement for one which
promotes a doctrine of the New Age movement?
It is not as if some papyrus says, “Let us not tempt Zarathustra.”
I Cor. 11:24: NA does not have the words λάβετε φάγετε
(“Take, eat”) and the word κλώμενον (“broken”), which are read in TR and
Byz. The NASB, NIV, CSB, ESV follow the
NA and thus do not include “Tale, eat” and “broken” in this verse. This may echo a difference in local
liturgical practice, or (some would argue) incomplete harmonization to Matthew
26:25. But what New Age doctrine is thus
I Cor. 13:3: NA reads κἂν where TR and Byz read καὶ ἐὰν,
but that makes no translatable difference; Riplinger must be referring to the
textual contest further along in the verse:
TR and Byz read καυθήσωμαι (“to be burned”) where NA, with P46 ℵ B, reads καυχήσωμαι (“that I may boast”). Again, there is a difference – CSB: “in order to boast.” NIV: “that I may boast” – ESV: “to be burned” – NASB: “to be burned” – but does this look like
anything other than the effect of an early scribal mistake involving a single
● (6) I Cor. 14:38: Where the TR
and Byz read ἀγνοέιτω (“let him be
ignorant”), NA reads ἀγνοέιται, and
as a result of this one-syllable difference, the NIV reads “they will
themselves be ignored,” the NASB reads, “he is not recognized.” The CSB reads “he will be ignored,” and the ESV
reads “he is not recognized.” Again,
there is no question that there is a difference in the meaning – but where is
the evidence of a devious doctrinal agenda, rather than scribal sloppiness?
● (7) I Cor. 15:49
1550) reads φορέσο
μεν, Byz reads
μεν, and NA reads φορέσο
Here the NA and TR agree with each other while disagreeing with the
majority of manuscripts!
difference in translations:
“We shall also bear.”
“we will also bear.”
“so shall we bear.”
“we shall also bear.”
“we will also bear,” with a footnote that mentions the
alternative, “let us also bear.” That
alleged New Age conspiracy is starting to look extremely subtle.
● (8) I Cor. 15:54
TR, Byz, and
NA all read the same; they all read νι
at the end of the verse, rejecting the reading in P46 and Vaticanus, νει
(This reading νεικος was mentioned in the Preface to the 1582 Rheims
version, as if it
was a reading which Beza was inclined to adopt.)
KJV, ESV, NIV, CSB, and NASB thus refer to “victory.”
● (9) 2 Cor. 1:10: The TR and Byz read ῥύεται (“does deliver”)
where NA reads ῥύσεται (“will deliver”).
This is why the KJV says “doth deliver” where the CSB, NIV, ESV, and
NASB say “will deliver.”
● (10) 2 Cor. 1:11: The TR, Byz,
and NA all read ἡμῶν at the end of the verse; thus the KJV and other versions refer
to “on our behalf.” Had the reading in
P46 (ὑμῶν) been adopted instead, the phrase would say “on your behalf.”
● (11) 2 Cor. 1:12: The TR, Byz,
and NA all read ἁπλότητι, which means “simplicity” or (in the NIV)
“integrity.” The NASB reflects the
alternative reading supported by P46 ℵ* B, ἁγιότητι (adopted in NA previously),
which means “holiness.” Again I find
myself asking, “Where is the insidious
introduction of New Age philosophy??”
● (12) 2 Cor. 2:1: Where TR and Byz
read δε, NA reads γαρ; the resultant difference in translations is the
difference between “But” and “For” at the beginning of the verse.
● (13) 2 Cor. 2:17: TR and Byz and
NA read πολλοὶ (“many”), and P46 reads λοιποί (“the rest”). The CSB, ESV, KJV, NIV, NASB, and NIV read
● (14) 2 Cor. 3:2: ℵ reads ὑμῶν
where P46, TR, Byz, and NA read ἡμῶν.
This is the same sort of variant seen in 2 Cor. 1:11. A few English versions had adopted ὑμῶν; this
is why the RSV and the Living Bible refer to “your” hearts rather than “our”
● (15) 2 Cor. 3:9: Where the TR, Byz
and B read ἡ διακονία, NA, with P46, reads τῇ διακονίᾳ. This difference seems to have had no effect
on English translations.
● (16) 2 Cor. 8:7: Where the TR and
Byz read ὑμῶν ἐν ἡμῖν, NA, with P46 and B, reads ἡμῶν ἐν ὑμῖν. Thus while the KJV refers to “your love for
us,” the ESV refers to “our love for
you,” and so does the NRSV. The
CSB’s base-text agrees with Byz, reading “your love for us.” (I suspect that the CBGM, plus common sense,
may elicit the adoption of ὑμῶν ἐν ἡμῖν in the future.) As in other examples of this kind of exchange
of pronouns, the difference in the readings looks much more like an effect of
scribal sloppiness than an effect of a doctrinal agenda to smuggle New Age
doctrines into the text.
● (17) Gal. 1:3:
Where the KJV’s base-text, along with the
text in most manuscripts, means “God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,”
translations of NA say, instead, “God our Father and the Lord Jesus
In other words, the substance
of this textual difference is a matter of where the word “our” (ἡμῶν)
belongs. Where is the New Age doctrine in either reading?
● (18) Gal. 1:8: TR and Byz include the word ὑμῖν, and thus the
KJV reads “to you” in the first reference to preaching, as well as the second
reference. The NA only has this word
within brackets. The NIV lacks the first
reference to preaching “to you,” whereas the ESV, NASB, and CSB has it.
● (19) Gal. 1:15: the TR and Byz
include ὁ θεὀς (“God”), which NA included within brackets; ὁ θεὀς is not there
in P46 B Pesh, and an earlier edition of NA did not adopt it. (Bruce Metzger added a special note in his Textual Commentary emphasizing his view
that ὁ θεὀς is secondary here.) The
difference, when the verse is translated into English, is a difference between
Paul referring to God directly (as in, “But when it pleased God, who separated
me,” in the KJV) or implicitly (as in, “But when he who had set me
apart . . . was pleased” in the ESV).
● (20) Gal. 4:25: Where TR and Byz
read τὸ γὰρ before Ἅγαρ Σινᾶ, NA reads τὸ δε.
The translation effect of this difference consists of whether or not the
sentence begins with “For.” What New Age teaching is supposed to be
supported by this?
● (21) Gal. 4:28: Where TR and Byz
(and ℵ A C) read ἡμεῖς at the beginning of the verse and ἐσμέν at the end, NA
(with P46 and B) read ὑμεῖς and ἐστέ.
Thus while the KJV says “Now you,”
most modern translations say, “Now we.”
● (22) Gal. 6:2: The one-letter
difference between ἀναπληρώσατε in
the TR and Byz (and ℵ A C), and ἀναπληρώσετε
results in a slightly different meaning; this is why the KJV reads, “fulfil”
while the NIV reads, “you will fulfill.” (Interestingly, the ESV and NASB agree
with Byz here.)
● (23) Gal. 6:13: Where Byz reads περιτετμημένοι αὐτοὶ (“those
who are submitting to be circumcised,”) TR and NA read περιτεμνόμενοι αὐτοὶ (“Those who are themselves
circumcised”). Either way, the reference
is to the same group of people.
Not a single one of these textual contests
involves a reading which presents New Age philosophy. Not a single one of
these textual contests involves a reading which demotes God or Christ. The tone of Riplinger’s argument in sections
34-36 of her book, to the effect that the NIV and NASB are “New Age Bible
versions,” hits a wall when the actual evidence is considered: the presentation of New Age philosophy is
simply absent from the 23 passages she has presented. This is not to say that the Alexandrian
readings in these 23 passages are all correct and original; it is to say that
they are doctrinally benign.
impression of New Age Bible Versions
– from cover to cover – is that it was written by an author who has taken a
valid concern – namely, concern about the many doctrinal errors that were
promoted in the late 1800s by Blavatsky and various spiritualists – and
transferred it to the text-critical work of B. F. Westcott
Anglican bishop, and a different person from William Wynn
) and F.
J. A. Hort
, as if their revision of the Greek New Testament, coming from
the same place, and at around the same time, as Theosophy and Spiritualism,
must be linked to those heresies in some way.
It is easy
to claim an association between the
New-Age-ism of the era in which Westcott and Hort worked, and their
text-critical work itself. And Hort did
himself no favor by attending a séance on one occasion, by insisting on the
inclusion of a Unitarian on the committee in charge of producing the Revised Version, or by joining a group of scholars
who wished to put spiritualism under the microscope of scientific investigation. But the strengths and weaknesses of Hort’s
text-critical evidence and arguments are strong or weak on their own, and do
not depend at all upon the theological integrity of Hort or of their other advocates. In addition, many renderings which Riplinger finds objectionable are translation-related, and emanate from translators, not from the base-text being translated.
would have done well to consider Hanlon’s Razor: do not rush to attribute to malicious motives what
can be explained by simple incompetence.
When we set aside Riplinger’s transferred alarm about Blavatsky &
Co., and take the time to examine the textual
centerpiece of her case – the 23 textual contests she has listed in which
Alexandrian readings are supposed to present New Age philosophy – it becomes
spectacularly clear that they do nothing of the sort.
Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.