Is the Textus receptus a conspiracy against God’s Word? A tongue-in-cheek experiment!

I grew up with the King James Version, regularly use it and the New King James among others, and often teach and preach from the Reina Valera Revisada, all of which are based on the so-called Textus receptus. And I love and use them all; see my, “Me, a Hater of the King James Version? Who in the World Told you That?” [1] Yet people set themselves up as experts; touring the country; writing cartoon tracts; writing long, breathless and angry posts with a lot of exclamation marks!!!!!; or producing passionate videos, telling us that the critical text of the Greek New Testament, and the translations based on it, are harmful to God’s people, (per)versions of the Bible.

To be sure, TR proponents range from the people who prefer the TR – but do not believe it is perfect or unique; I believe they are mistaken but beyond that I see no harm in the viewpoint. Midway along the spectrum would be the Trinitarian Bible Society, which links modern versions to Satan’s plan to destroy God’s Word. At the extreme end we run into what can only be described as cultic thinking: that the Vatican has been on a rampage to destroy the New Testament since the third century; that the King James 1611 version is perfect because God inspired it when it was published in 1611; that Bibles in other languages should be corrected by the King James (Humberto Gómez rewrote the Spanish Bible based on the KJV). Holding down the flag at this far end of the spectrum are Peter Ruckman; Gail Riplinger; Samuel Gipp; Jack Chick of Chick Publications. Chick’s heir David W. Daniels willy-nilly trashes any evidence he doesn’t like; see his jaw-dropping interview on why the King James is the only Bible for the whole world: “Why should God’s Word be Restricted to English?” “This is something that God did. He could have picked anybody. This is just what He picked. And we’re blessed to speak English, praise God.” [2]. Daniels’ qualifications might look impressive to a layperson, but when he announces that he has a “B.A., M.Div., is trained in Bible and linguistics” and has studied the topic for 20 years, he tips his cards and reveals that he is seriously underqualified to evaluate any Bible translation. Or you can take a look at this article by Ken Matto if you don’t believe they have a certain “tone” – “The NIV Hates the Lord Jesus.” [3] Here is another example, characterized by sincere passion rather than by honest research – and zeal without knowledge is no virtue. [4]

Most of the people I have just named are unable to handle the original languages. Their fame consists in copying and pasting things that others have written; who in turn copied and pasted from others. They proclaim themselves scholars, but their supposed scholarship is covered with other peoples’ fingerprints. They are also known for their “cherry-picking” – that is, they accept the evidence that suits their theory, and discredit whatever does not.

Like all conspiracy theorists, they inevitably go down the same road: they cannot condescend to carefully respond to opposing views, because they are the faithful watchmen who decide what is true and what is “fake news” or even worse, Satanic scheming. Hence, to honestly engage other viewpoints is already a decision against the truth. Take a look at any Chick tracts on the King James and you will see how he stacks the deck against anyone who disagrees with him. Don’t be shocked by their lack of basic ethics; or when you see yourself being accused of being a Vatican secret agent if you teach from anything but the KJV. And so, as a seminary professor who does not exclusively use the Textus receptus and King James, and does not constantly uphold them exclusively as God’s Word as given directly by God in the 16-17th centuries, and does not refer to other translations except for the purpose of condemning them, I am, to my great surprise, part of a global cabal that takes its direction from Rome. Oddly enough, I cannot recall ever attending a single meeting of this committee nor even getting an invitation.

According to Chick Publications, the devil would draw you away from exclusive, unwavering dedication to the King James. If you use the NIV or the NASB, then you are the Devil’s Disciple.

I propose that instead of cherry-picking, all sides should accept a basic truth of human existence: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” that is, if we treat our evidence in a careful way, then we should treat their evidence with the same respectfulness. In context. Otherwise, we will fall into the fallacy of “special pleading” = the rules apply to your team, they don’t apply to my team. One sauce for my bird, another for yours.

Here’s a prime example of special pleading: they say: “The Catholic Bible contains the apocryphal books and the ESV and NRSV – which contains them in some printings – are therefore contaminated!” I respond: “Yes, but, didn’t the King James Bible contain the apocryphal books, and still does in many printings?” [My Logos software has the KJV of 1 Maccabees and Tobit, for example!] Sauce-not-for-MY-gander replies: “Yeah, no, but that’s different, you see!” Or how about if someone says, “I know someone who used the ESV and he lost his faith!” But if you come up with an example of a KJV-using apostate, that is brushed aside as an anomaly. A different sauce.

The path of honesty would lead us to say: “If the same fault can possibly be attributed to both versions, then both sides should admit that the arguments about the Apocrypha and apostasy etc. should be laid aside as irrelevant.”

Okay? Let’s continue, then! Let’s define our terms:

Can we all agree that, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”? If not, stop right here, because this post isn’t for you.

Critical Text. I generally use the Nestle-Aland 28th edition (2011). This is an attempt to reconstruct the exact text of the New Testament by taking all manuscripts into account, and usually giving more weight to older one. It is not – despite the false representations of some of its enemies – based on just two manuscripts! The list in the appendix contains 5800 Greek manuscripts and long lists of other data. Contrary to rumor, it clearly teaches all the doctrines of the faith.

Majority Text. This type of New Testament reflects the majority of manuscripts, which mainly are medieval, and does not give weight to a manuscript just because it is older. I have Maurice Robinson’s edition on Logos.

Textus receptus (TR). There are about 30 editions of the TR, assembled by scholars in the 16th and 17th century, based on a few dozen manuscripts or fewer. Despite the fact that thousands of manuscripts have been discovered since then, including all of the oldest ones, the TR is frozen in time and never updated. Some regard its unchangeableness as a sign of perfection, but we will show the problem with this viewpoint later on. I have several editions of the TR on Logos.

Our Approach:

I have read through many attacks on modern translations of the New Testament and soaked up their methods. What follows is my attempt to create a brief fictitious attack on the Textus receptus – a thing I would never do seriously, by the way, since it’s a version of God’s inspired Word – and show you how Gander Sauce would go down. [5] Humor me, please: given that I am imitating those who play fast and loose with the evidence, my little fiction will make no attempt at fairness. I merely wish to hold up a mirror to people whose material I read.

“The Textus receptus – a conspiracy against God’s Word?” A hypothetical and fictional essay by Gary Shogren

Satan’s plan: [And they often begin this way]. Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has tried to derail us by changing God’s Word. In Genesis 3:1 he twists God’s words to Adam and Eve by saying, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” So, you see that any alteration of God’s Word is by definition a Satanic attack. And I declare to you that the TR was an unholy alteration of the New Testament that Satan started during the humanist Enlightenment!!! [Gary: since I am imitating the argumentation, I will also imitate the punctuation!!!!]

History: Any neutral observer can see how the world went crazy when the Textus receptus (TR) was first published in 1516. The Catholic Spanish and French conquered most of the Americas and syncretized their religion with paganism. Ignatius Loyola founded the Jesuits. The scientific revolution resulted in unbelief and evolution. The Council of Trent institutionalized traditional popish dogma.

Theology: A latter-day doctrine – the Preservation of God’s Word in one edition. Isaiah 40:25 says that “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” Forever means forever! But the Textus receptus only came into existence in 1516. Our of the thousands of manuscripts, there is not a single one that looks like the TR, neither the older ones nor the medieval ones. So, where was the perfect Word of God hidden between the time of the apostles and the year that Erasmus published his first edition? The Textus receptionites can point to no copy of the TR nor any edition of it from, let’s say, AD 100-1516. That is, they de facto deny that the Word endured for 1400 years, let alone forever! Some King James Onlyists believe God gave (or re-gave) his Word in 1611. My question: what did people in 1610 do, not having a non-polluted Bible? Is this too not a denial of the preservation of God’s Word? (One common reaction is that the Devil, working through the Vatican, destroyed all the good manuscripts! That is, the fact that there is zero evidences is taken as proof of their theory!) Ah, people say, what about the Westminster Confession 1.8? It says, the Word of God “being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.” [6] Very well – of which edition of the TR – there were a number available in the 17th century, all somewhat different – were they speaking? We say this, because the perfect edition can only be one edition, since no two are alike. And from other writings of the Westminster divines, it is clear they recognized that manuscripts might differ one from another.

Antioch and Alexandria. Textus receptus proponents are fond of saying that their version came from Antioch (although, according to the evidence, it went missing for over a thousand years!) and that all older manuscripts came from the “iffy” city of Alexandria. They argue that Antioch was the orthodox center of the faith and that Alexandria was the hotbed of error. All four of these truth claims are misleading! Athanasius of Alexandria was the leading champion of the deity of Christ in the 4th century. He wrote, “The Word of God, incorporeal, incorruptible and immaterial, entered our world. Yet it was not as if he had been remote from it up to that time. For there is no part of the world that was ever without his presence; together with his Father, he continually filled all things and places.” [7] Whereas, in Antioch, Paul of Samosota denied the trinity; Lucian of Antioch’s pupils included two of the worst heretics: Arius and Eusebius of Nicodemia. Neighbor to Antioch was the heretic Apollinaris. So, if we are going to base our opinion of manuscripts based on where they may have come from – and usually that is guesswork – then Antioch looks like a danger zone! And doesn’t that discredit the Textus receptus?

The Textus receptus – a Catholic production! The first edition of the TR came to us from the hand of Erasmus in 1516. An ordained Catholic priest. A man of the apostate Enlightenment. The man who was called “The Prince of the Humanists.” He repudiated the Reformation and was a convinced Catholic as long as he lived. How Catholic? Erasmus was so devoted to the Virgin Mary that he composed a liturgy to her. He even presented his Greek New Testament to the pope, Leo X, in a three-page dedication – and the pope, ever polite, wrote him back a nice thank-you note! Is it any wonder that the TR was the preferred Greek New Testament of the Roman Catholic church for centuries afterward?

The Textus receptus nickname. No, it was not stamped on it by Heaven. Rather, a publishing company, Elzevir Brothers, gave it that name in an advertising blurb in 1633: Textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum. [8] Written in the Romish language, Latin! Nor was the Authorized Version (another label for the King James Version) named so by an angel, but by human beings. We should not let mere mortals decide which Greek text or Bible translation are the authorized ones.

Rupert Murdoch publishes Textus receptus! He also publishes the Reina Valera Revisada and the King James Version, which are based on the Textus receptus. Look here if you don’t believe me! [9] Murdoch is an agent of the Vatican, a member of the Illuminati. His Fox Television is responsible for “The Simpsons” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. And he publishes pornography. Therefore, the Textus receptus must be avoided!

The Textus receptus was altered by the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus included Acts 8:37 – “And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” based on the fact that the Catholic Vulgate included it. Same with Acts 9:5-6. It’s reading “book of life” in Rev 22:19 (see below) is a translation from the Vulgate, not Greek manuscripts.

The Textus receptus – the perfect text, but what edition are we talking about? The TR appeared in many editions in the 16th and 17th centuries. Erasmus himself produced five editions. He was rushed through his first edition, which contained many errors (so the first TR was hardly “preserved”!). He cleaned up many problems in the second edition – which Martin Luther used – but did not include the trinitarian verse in 1 John 5:7-8. That only showed up in his third edition! So, if the TR you have includes those verses, they did not appear in the original and were added by human beings. There are perhaps 30 editions of the TR; none of them are alike! If no two are alike, then logically no more than one can absolutely perfect. So – the question is, “Which version of the Textus receptus do you accept as perfect?” Erasmus’ second edition (1519)? His third (1535)? The fourth Stephanus edition (1551)? One of the Beza versions (1598)? The Elzevir (1633)? Or any of the two dozen others?

Human subtractions from the Textus receptus. Take a look at Luke 11:4 KJV – do you notice that something important is missing? It looks suspiciously as if the editors of the TR and the translators of the KJV no longer believe that “thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever”!

Human additions that appear in the Textus receptus. TR promotors like to quote Rev 22:18-19 – “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” But how ironic for a movement that says that Satan’s plan is to distort God’s Word by subtraction, they pretty much overlook that it is also wrong to add to it! And the best evidence indicates that the TR has many things that the apostles never wrote.

Examples: [Gary: And I promise you – these are the exact kinds of twisting-turning statements that I see on the TR websites]

Mark 10:24

TR as found in KJV; I have open the Stephanus 1551 edition of the TR: “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”

Critical Text: “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!”

Notice how the TR softens Jesus’ teaching: what he actually said was that it was hard for all to enter the kingdom, but the TR says, don’t worry! If you aren’t rich, then what I’m about to say isn’t relevant for you!

Mark 16:16

TR as found in KJV: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Not in the critical text.

The TR says faith is not enough! You have to be baptized. Isn’t this a Catholic doctrine?

Mark 16:18 TR: “And these signs shall follow them that believe…They shall take up serpents.” Not in the critical text. There is no qualification here, it does not say “occasionally a person will do this” or “they will do it by accident” like Paul in Acts 28:3-6. If you have faith, the TR says, don’t worry about venomous snakes.

Matt 5:22 TR: “That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” The TR has added “without a cause”; with just the little word eike, it erodes Christ’s clear teaching! It gives your anger a free pass, so long as you have a good reason for it!

Matt 17:21

TR has added a whole verse: “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” So it’s not just faith that’s necessary to expel the devil, you have to fast as well! What religion does that sound like?

John 5:3b-4 TR as found in KJV adds this: “…waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” Not found in the critical text. Clearly the TR is teaching magic and superstition!

2 Tim 3:17 TR as found in KJV “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Again, the TR has subtlety added a little word “perfect”, teaching that we can achieve sinless perfection in this life! The critical text clearly is correct: “that the man of God may be complete”, that is, completely equipped.

TR has a weak Christology. Any version that downplays the deity of Christ is obviously a fake. And in two texts the TR blatantly omits verses that the critical text includes. Look them up in the King James and you will see what they have taken out!

First: 1 Peter 3:15 TR as found in the KJV – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Compare this with the critical text, as seen in the NIV: “Sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts.” This paragraph in 1 Peter is based on Isa 29:23, where “the Lord” is Jehovah (29:22). Jesus is Jehovah in the critical text of 1 Peter, but for some reason the TR decided to sidestep the truth.

Second: Jude 5 TR as found in the KJV – “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” The critical text says, Jesus saved his people from Egypt. Meaning that, Jesus is the Jehovah of the Exodus. Why has the TR seen fit to obliterate Christ’s deity from the Bible?

Third: John 1:18 has “the only-begotten Son”, where the critical text has “the only-begotten God” which can be taken more reasonable as, “God, the only-begotten, the one who is in the bosom of the Father.” Athanasius (in the original Greek text of, “Oration 2 Against the Arians” [10]) uses the phrase “only-begotten God” – why does the great defender of Christ’s eternal deity not quail at the phrasing? Better: Why does the TR eliminate “God” from a description of Christ?

Textus receptus proponents falsely claim that their editions – plural! – are in full agreement with the majority of manuscripts. Actually, there are plenty of disagreements between the Majority Text and the TR. The CARM website has a useful article by Luke Wayne, “Differences between the Majority Text and the Textus receptus.” [11] He includes a partial list of those differences. Once again: you can claim either that the majority text is infallible (even though all those manuscripts have disagreements among them) or the TR (even though the various editions have disagreements among them), but you cannot make both claims. Here are some verses where the TR adds to majority text manuscripts:

Matthew 6:18 – “thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” The TR adds “openly”. The vast majority of manuscripts do not have it. Is the TR is sneaking in a prosperity gospel?

Acts 5:41 – “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” The TR removes “for the name Jesus”. Are they saying we should be ashamed to suffer for Christ?

Ephesians 1:18 TR as found in the KJV. “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” The TR speaks of intellectual enlightenment, the sort that the humanist Erasmus was famous for. Why doesn’t it follow the vast majority of manuscripts, which read “the eyes of your heart”?

Revelation 22:19 TR as found in the KJV. “…if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.” The TR has “book of life”, which was added in from the Latin Vulgate by Erasmus in 1516. It is not found in any, 0%, of the Greek manuscripts, which have “tree of life”!  Still, the TR that I have open – Stephanus 1550 – repeats the same error. In other words: the TR teaches that people can lose their salvation!

CONCLUSION: Look at the evidence for yourself!

  • Satan always tries to alter God’s Word! Therefore, this must be what he did in 1516 through the mariolater Catholic priest and Enlightenment humanist Erasmus!
  • History shows how the world went downhill after its publication!
  • TR inspiration is a latter-day doctrine and unsupportable!
  • The TR is based on manuscripts from heresy-laden Antioch!
  • The TR is a Catholic production and for centuries was the only text used by the Vatican!
  • The TR got its nickname – the Received Text – from a human publisher, not from Heaven!
  • Rupert Murdoch publishes the Textus receptus and versions based on it!
  • The TR was altered by the Latin Vulgate of the Catholic church!
  • The TR is not even one text, but a family of texts! If the TR is perfect, which one of the 30 different editions?
  • The TR contains human additions and subtractions!
  • The TR has a weakened christology!
  • The TR is not in agreement with the majority of manuscripts!


But enough already! Let’s bring our little fable to an end. Remember that my essay is more parody than research. (Here are a few of my more serious essays [12]). And I can hear people repeating, “Yes, but!” Yes, but you take that out of context! Yes but, that difference between the TR and the critical text does not change the Bible’s meaning! Yes but, the TR is better even when it doesn’t agree with the majority text! Be REASONABLE!

And of course, I would never have toyed around with this conclusion, I should say, apart from the fact that I would be compelled call out this new-fangled doctrine of the preservation of the NT in one translation or Greek edition. Rather I would have said – Satan does attack the Bible, but the fact that all manuscripts are in impressively broad agreement (within a percentage point or two) with each other proves Satan didn’t choose that method to discredit the Word; that in the critical text, Majority Text, and the Textus receptus you will find every single doctrine of the faith in all its glory; you can point to any period of history and argue that it’s the worst of all time; it doesn’t matter what city a manuscript if from, and besides, it has hard to do that; the fact that Erasmus was Catholic has nothing do to for or against the Textus receptus; nor does it matter where it got its nickname; nor does it matter if Zondervan publishes it; and above all, the question is not, which edition is shorter or longer, but, what is the evidence for or against a reading?

I would be satisfied, not when people agree with me on which Greek edition to use, but if I can convince anyone that “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” That we ought to treat evidence that is contrary to our viewpoint with the same precision, context, even-handedness, empathy as we want our personal viewpoint to be treated. That we accept the Goose/Gander Criterion a necessary application of “do unto others as we would have others do unto us.”

The Textus receptus is reliable, as is the Majority Text; the critical text, in my opinion and in that of almost all serious students of the Greek text, slightly more so. When we are dealing with the exact working of God’s Word “slightly more accurate” is an attractive quality! But whatever credible Bible we use, let’s love it, study it, pray it, obey it!




[3] Found on the pseudo-scholarly This site has no filter against conpiracy theories, nor of anger:


[5] I base this post partially on a relatively sober study by David Blunt, “Which Bible Version: Does it Really Matter?” It is found on the website of the Trinitarian Bible Society. Here is “history of the Bible” which argues that the church has preserved the text as perfect (although the author doesn’t seem upset that most of this preservation was through non-evangelical hands); and of course, this was a Satanic plan: it was the “wrath of men and devils” that lies behind all those godly scholars who analyze thousands of manuscripts. I have asked TBS if they wouldn’t send someone from this group to debate me; as usually happens to me, no champion steps forward. In fact, they told me they do not “debate” the truth, only “present” it. This is an oddity: no serious scholar would refuse to interact with others in a free give-and-take. Blunt does not strike me as being informed about the topics of textual transmission or translation – here is his chance to contact me and we can have a respectful debate! Same invitation to David W. Daniels, Humbert Gómez. I ask only that the person know the field of study.




[9] Zondervan’s version of the Textus receptus is a version of the 1550 Stephanus edition – The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament:  See also our article here:


[11] The CARM website has a useful article by Luke Wayne, “Differences between the Majority Text and the Textus receptus. He includes a very partial list of those differences. See

[12] Here are a few of my defenses of the critical text, and defenses against attacks on it.;; and a link to George Guthrie’s article:

Is the Textus receptus a conspiracy against God’s Word? A tongue-in-cheek experiment!by Gary S. Shogren, PhD in New Testament Exegesis, Aberdeen University

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