Burgon and the Matthew 1-14 analysis

Steven Avery

Discussed on Facebook with Alexander Thomson

Textual commentary upon the Holy Gospels.
Part I, St. Matthew, division I, i-xiv : largely from the use of materials, and mainly on the text, left by J. W. Burgon (1899)
by Edward Miller
Matthew 10:8 - raise the dead
Two short reviews

Gavin Basil McGrath comments

Gavin Basil McGrath (new thread on Textus Receptus Academy) and James Snapp have discussed this some.
Steven Avery - This is the later phase for Burgon, when he began to lose the thread somewhat, overrating the Greek mss. in many cases. And we only have the information through Miller. More interesting is the middle phase, Last Twelve Verses to Revision Revised. In Revision Revised he was happy to equate the TR editions with the Traditional Text.
And I would like to see his colour coded analysis of the ECW of Acts 8:37 and the heavenly witnesses.

The undisputed originator of the Majority Text idea was the Church of England Dean of Chichester Cathedral, John William Burgon (1813-1888)166. In John Burgon’s Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels (1896), he says, “I am not defending the ‘Textus Receptus’ ..., it is without authority to bind, ... [and] it calls for ... revision,” “upon the” basis of the “majority of authorities167.” In what is perhaps Burgon’s best known work, The Revision Revised (1883), Burgon’s great brag was this, “Again and again we shall have occasion to point out ... that the Textus Receptus needs correction168.”

Burgon set out to produce a majority text Textual Commentary in which he would “point out” in more detail where “the Textus Receptus needs correction,” on the basis of his majority text views. But he only completed something approaching a final draft of Volume 1 on Matt. 1-14, before he died. Burgon’s first volume was then prepared for publication by the Burgonite, Edward Miller (1825-1901), a Prebendary of the Cathedral Burgon was Dean at, and published posthumously in 1899170. The reader will find Burgon & Miller (1899) quite a different work to the first volume of my textual commentary, which is also on Matt. 1-14. Burgon’s Textual Commentary (1899) makes about 40 to 50 changes to the Textus Receptus in Matt. 1-14, of which c. 95% are followed by both Hodges and Farstad (1982 & 1985) and Robinson & Pierpont (1991 & 2005), supra. By contrast, the first volume of my Textual Commentary, finds in this same portion of Scripture, Matt. 1-14, that in fact no changes to the Textus Receptus are warranted. (Although there is a qualified sense in which I agree with Burgon on a small number of instances where he wrongly considers a reading is the “TR,” such as at Matt. 5:28 or Matt. 5:44.)

I may have some correspondence with McGrath about this.


Alexander Thomson
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Notes on the Gavil Basil McGrath Burgon section


the basic TR text I use is that found in Frederick H.A. Scrivener’s, The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Text followed in the Authorized Version, Cambridge Univerity Press, UK, 1894 & 1902

This is an 1881 edition originally, done for the decrepit Revision.
The edition is mentioned, the quote is below, however the texts are identical.

The next quote is correct, and important.

Such factors mean Scrivener does not properly understand the AV translators, and reminds us that his work must be used with some qualification and caution.

Latin-phobia is spot-on

Jan Krans also torches Letis on analyzing Beza without any examples - McGrath says he lies about Bea

Hills also gave reasons for Burgon's conceptual errors
check if Grantley does the doctrinal over textual Beza thing (mentioned as done by Letis)

Pesitto - German form

Matthew 10:8 raise the dead - Matthew 3:11 - Hebrews 4:2 - Matthew 2:16 -

Merk Latin edition (interesting)

no mention of Tomson Geneva

McGrath likes 1 Tim 3:16 Burgon, does he comment on Mark ending or Pericope? - cxcii
(e.g., I Tim. 3:16 196).
196 Burgon, J.W., The Revision Revised, John Murray, London, UK, 1883, pp. 98-105,424-7. Though his style is convoluted, I agree with his basic conclusion on how the text should read, and consider that this is one of Burgon’s better textual analyses

"the reader will find references to the majority text of Burgon & Miller in both the main part of the commentary and appendices at: Matt. 1:1; *Matt. 1:6 (once) & *12:42 (twice) Burgon & Miller are here thrice non-committal as to what the TR’s reading is; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 3:8; Matt. 3:11; Matt. 4:10; Matt. 4:18; Matt. 5:20; Matt. 5:21; Matt. 5:23; Matt. 5:27; Matt. 5:28; Matt. 5:39b; Matt. 5:44; Matt. 5:47; Matt. 5:48b; Matt. 6:18; Matt. 7:2; Matt. 7:14; Matt. 8:4; Matt. 8:5; Matt. 8:13; Matt. 8:15; Matt. 8:25; Matt. 9:5b; Matt. 9:5c; Matt. 9:17; Matt. 9:18; Matt. 9:36; Matt. 10:8; Matt. 10:10; Matt. 10:25; Matt. 10:28a; *Matt. 10:28b; *Matt. 11:8; *Matt. 11:16a; Matt. 11:16b; *Matt. 11:21; Matt. 12:3; Matt. 12:6; Matt. 12:8; Matt. 12:13; *Matt. 12:21; Matt. 12:28; *Matt. 12:32a; *Matt. 12:32b; Matt. 12:35a; *Matt. 12:35b; Matt. 13:15; *Matt. 13:27; Matt. 13:28; *Matt. 13:30; *Matt. 13:33; Matt. 13:40; & Matt. 14:19
p. clxxviii

By contrast, we neo-Byzantines of the Received Text may from time to time discover new Byzantine Greek or Western Latin manuscripts. E.g., in 1879 the Byzantine Manuscript Sigma 042 (Codex Rossanensis, late 5th / 6th century), was discovered in Western Europe at the Cathedral sacristy of Rossano in southern Italy. But like other such discovered texts, they are acceptable to us to use because they conform to that which we already have had preserved for us over time and through time. They are not “new textual discoveries” in the sense of some “new text type,” but rediscoveries of a text type we already had and knew about. Thus they actually go to help show that which we always maintained. Their effect is to show how accurate e.g., Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza were, to base the starting point of their Greek NT texts on representative Byzantine texts as determined from a relatively small sample of much later Byzantine Text manuscripts e.g., Erasmus’s Greek texts were no earlier than the 12th century.

clxxxiiNT text, I would reply that the same is true for any of the manuscripts I cite in the section on the sources outside the closed class of sources e.g., the same would be true for the Alexandrian texts. They are nevertheless of some interest in considering the history of textual transmission outside the closed class of Greek and Latin NT sources. Tischendorf evidently found Dillmann’s Allophylic Ethiopic Version of some value in determining his neo-Alexandrian Text. I have generally referred to this Allophylian language translation when it is in Tischendorf’s textual apparatus. Like Tischendorf’s neo-Alexandrian text which it influenced, it is admittedly unreliable. My usage of this Ethiopic Version (Dillmann, 18th / 19th centuries), should also act to remind the reader of yet another problem with the neo-Alexandrian texts, namely, that their sources keep changing, depending on “the most recent discoveries.” Thus in Tischendorf’s day, the “discovery” of Dillmann’s Ethiopic Version put it at “the cutting edge” of neo-Alexandrian textual analysis. But as the years rolled by, and older “and therefore better” Ethiopic versions were “discovered,” Dillmann’s Ethiopic Version faded from neo-Alexandrian textual apparatuses. “Truth” it seems, is “a relative thing” for neo-Alexandrians, depending on “what manuscripts have been discovered.” Thus e.g., who is to say that manuscripts they now think so highly of, might not likewise suddenly become redundant if e.g., “new discoveries” of some older manuscripts are suddenly “discovered.” By contrast, we neo-Byzantines of the Received Text may from time to time discover new Byzantine Greek or Western Latin manuscripts. E.g., in 1879 the Byzantine Manuscript Sigma 042 (Codex Rossanensis, late 5th / 6th century), was discovered in Western Europe at the Cathedral sacristy of Rossano in southern Italy. But like other such discovered texts, they are acceptable to us to use because they conform to that which we already have had preserved for us over time and through time. They are not “new textual discoveries” in the sense of some “new text type,” but rediscoveries of a text type we already had and knew about. Thus they actually go to help show that which we always maintained. Their effect is to show how accurate e.g., Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza were, to base the starting point of their Greek NT texts on representative Byzantine texts as determined from a relatively small sample of much later Byzantine Text manuscripts e.g., Erasmus’s Greek texts were no earlier than the 12th century. The work on the Received text in the 16th and 17th centuries was really just a fine-tuning of Erasmus’s Greek NT text of (1516), which drew on a relatively small number of manuscripts, none of which were earlier than about the 12th century A.D. . The fact that the Textus Receptus can now be defended and determined through reference to much older Byzantine texts, such as e.g., Codex Rossanensis, from the late 5th or 6th century, in my opinion is a wonderful proof of how accurate the neo-Byzantines belief was in the preservation of the text over time and through time. In general, if not in every instance, we should reasonably expect to find texts much earlier than the 12th century which confirms for us the work of the 16th and 17th century neo-Byzantines working from these 12th century and later manuscripts. Thus these later discoveries of earlier Byzantine texts from e.g., the 9th century (Codex Cyprius), or 8th century (Codex Basilensis), or 6th century (Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus), or 5th century (Codex


Freerianus in Matthew 1-28; Luke 8:13-24:53; and Codex Alexandrinus in the Gospels), or other centuries, is really exactly the sort of thing we always expected!

Moreover, neo-Byzantines of the 16th and 17th centuries knew that there were faulty texts circulating in ancient times. This was clear from e.g., Erasmus’s rejection of the Alexandrian Text dating to the 4th century in Codex B 02 (Codex Vaticanus), or Beza’s rejection of the Western Text dating to the 5th century in Codex D 05 (Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis), named after Beza who once owned it. Think of it! Neo-Byzantines of the 16th century preferred a 12th century Byzantine Text over a 4th century Alexandrian Txt or 5th century Western Text! The idea “the oldest known text is the best text” was clearly and wisely rejected by them.And time has proven them right! Thus the later discoveries of earlier corrupt texts from e.g., the 4th century with Codex Sinaticius and connected “rediscovery” of the Erasmus repudiated Codex Vaticanus, is once again the very sort of thing we always expected! There is thus stability to the Textus Receptus unmatched by the neo-Alexandrians. For we neo-Byzantines, truth is not relative, truth is absolute. The reader may therefore wish to ponder anew such things when he sees references to Dillmann’s Ethiopic Version, remembering how important this text was to the neo-Alexandrian Tischendorf, and how unimportant it is to later neo-Alexandrians


Also of value has been the text of the Burgonites, Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont. Even though the Majority Text is a count of all Greek manuscripts, not just the Byzantine Text ones (i.e., in Robinson & Pierpont’s K group selection taken from von Soden), because all others are a slim percentage well below five per cent of the total, in practice, the Majority Text equates the Byzantine Text184. And where the Byzantine Text clxxxivis split, the Majority Text will always follow a sizeable Byzantine reading. Hence in practice it is clearly a Byzantine text. Thus if the Byzantine Text is fairly evenly divided between two readings, it will likewise be fairly evenly divided in their Majority Text. Hence Robinson & Pierpont’s 1991 work is fairly entitled, The New Testament ... According to the Byzantine / Majority Textform, and their revised 2005 work is fairly entitled, The NewTestament in the ... the Byzantine Textform. For the revised Volume 1 (2010), I have in Appendix 3 also gone over the readings again with Robinson’s & Pierpont’s 2005 edition. So too I have consulted Zane Hodges & Arthur Farstad’s The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text (1982 & 1985) (whose Majority Text focuses on von Soden’s K and I groups).

Hodges & Farstad’s and Robinson & Pierpont’s majority texts were basically constructed in Matthew to Jude from the data found in the work of Hermann Freiherr von Soden (1852-1911) (Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in inhrer altesten erreichbaren Textgestalt, Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, Gottingen, Germany, 1913), and in Revelation from the data in the work of Herman Hoskier (1864-1938) (Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, Bernard Quaritch, London, UK, 1929).


Neo-Byzantines who support the Received Text of the NT, such as myself, can only look with regret on the fact that supporters of the Neo-Alexandrian School have control of the formally recognized forums of learning in Colleges or Universities, perhaps with the odd supporter of the Burgonite School in this or that Christian College; and supporters of the neo-Byzantine School generally do not have such a presence. It might be said in the tertiary Colleges or universities about Christ’s Word, the Received Text, that which it was said of Christ in NT times, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” (John 7:48). Part of this regret is the fact that the neo-Alexandrian textual apparatuses do not specifically itemize readings from the Byzantine manuscript, Codex Rossanensis (Sigma 042, late 5th / 6th century). Fortunately though, a copy of this manuscript, containing most of the first two gospels, was published by Adolf von Harnack, and reprinted by Akademie Verlag in the late 20th century. I have thus been able to consult this fascinating and valuable Byzantine manuscript. (Harnack, A. von., Die Uberlieferung Der Griechischen Apologeten Des Zweiten Jahrhunderts in Der Alten Kirche Und Im Mittelalter, Leipzig, 1882/3; reprint, Akademie Verlag GmbH, Berlin, Germany, 1991, ISBN 3-05-001822-4, Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, pp. 1-96 [pp. 19-376]).


Readings in Scrivener’s, The New Testament (Cambridge University, 1881, Appendix, pp. 648-56) refers to variants from the Complutensian NT of 1514, Erasmus’s editions of 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535, Stephanus’s editions of 1546, 1549, 1550, and1551, and Beza’s editions of 1560, 1565, 1582, 1589, and 1598. ,,, these works by Scrivener (1881)


On the down side, Tischendorf, the discoverer of the Alexandrian Text, London Sinaiticus, did a great deal of damage to the truth of God as set forth in the Received Text. In 1844 he put his hand down a trash can, and found some dirty old Greek manuscripts at a Greek Orthodox Monastery in Arabia. He returned there in 1859, and was given the booby-prize of London Sinaiticus. Like Karl Lachmann’s Greek NT (1831) before him,Tischendorf Greek NT text failed to recognize the teaching of the Divine preservation of Holy Writ, and so treated Greek NT manuscripts as he would treat uninspired Greek and Latin classics, applying to both alike the same textual rules he thought best. But on the up side, Tischendorf included a fairly comprehensive textual apparatus, whose detail on TR readings remains extremely useful to this day, and I have valuably consulted it a lot


his same type of dichotomy is true for von Soden’s work. Indeed, with the qualified exception of Majority Text works (which maintain a Burgonite belief in the Divine preservation of the Majority Text, as opposed to a historical Protestant belief in the Divine preservation of the Received Text,) none of these Greek NT works recognize the religiously conservative teaching of the Divine Preservation of Holy Writ.


cxciii(from Egypt), which shows parts of John 18 (Papyrus P 52; John Rylands Library, Manchester, England, UK, c. 135 A.D. +/- 5 years), capital letters (also called “unicals”) were sometimes used (see commentary at John 18:31-33,37,38), with spacing between the words; on a page, written on both sides. The capital “S” (sigma), which in modern Greek script looks like “Σ” is written as “C;” sometimes the capital Alpha is written as an “A” and sometimes something like a larger form of “α” (with a sloped taller right hand bar, that makes it look like something in between “A” and “α”). By contrast, Manuscript Washington (Codex Freerianus, 5th century, which is Byzantine in Matthew 1-28; Luke 8:13-24:53), though written in capital letters (and likewise using “C” for capital sigma), lacks any spacing between the words (other than for stylistic paper spaces). It is also clear that this handwritten document is sometimes neater and easier to read, and sometimes harder to read. So too, the purple parchment Byzantine Text’s Codex Beratinus Phi 043 (6th century, Tirana, Albania; St. Matthew’s & St. Mark’s Gospels) is written in capitals / unicals in continuous script. The comments I make about ellipsis are even more acute and likely, if the manuscript being used is like Codex Freerianus or Codex Beratinus, and lacking spacing between the words. On the reconstructions I make, whether in a modern lower case Greek script, or transliterating into English letters, I may put spacing between the words. But the reader should be aware that possibly no such spacing existed in the original, so that the instances of ellipsis I refer to may have been an even easier mistake to make than I state where I do not use continuous script. The reader should also be aware that the original was quite probably in capital letters. Nevertheless, I use transliterated English letters, or very occasionally I might use a lower case modern Greek script, so long as such factors do not impair the basic stylistic analysis I undertake. Unless otherwise specified, I consider the script I use to be close enough to what is required, to make the basic point of textual analysis for my purposes. Sometimes I may use capital letters without spacing to highlight a point (e.g., Matt. 6:34). God has given different “spiritual gifts” (I Cor. 12:1) to different members of Christ’s body, the church. “For the body is not one member, but many” (I Cor. 12:14). On the one hand, I have tried to write this commentary in a way that allows as many brethren as possible to understand it. But on the other hand, I do not thereby wish to suggest that all, or even most brethren, have the skills of a neo-Byzantine textual analyst. There are three levels of perception. The first level are those, who by the grace of God, understand how to compose the Received Text. Such are the 16th and early 17th centuries class of textual scholars found in men like Beza, the Elzevirs, and the King James translators. The second level are those, who by the grace of God, can understand the argument once it is presented to them, even though they cannot form the argument themselves. The third level are those who, lacking any element of this gift, can neither compose the TR, nor understand the argument for its composition, even when it is explained to them. But even such persons on this third level may have the Holy Ghost confirm to them the accuracy of the Textus Receptus and the Authorized Version, through understanding and conviction of the Biblical doctrine of the Divine Preservation of Holy Writ (Matt. 5:18; I Peter 1:25).


cxciv It should be remembered that the Protestant defence of the Received Text is nothing new. Before the Roman Catholic Church’s Vatican Two Council (1962-5), the Latin Church claimed that the Latin textual tradition (whether derived from textual analysis of Jerome’s Vulgate, Vulgate Codices, old Latin Versions, ancient or mediaeval Latin church writers, or manifested in the Clementine Vulgate), was superior to the Greek Text of the NT Received Text. Thus the Protestant-Roman Catholic debate on text types, centred around which was more accurate, the Authorized King James Version translated into English from the Hebrew (and Aramaic) Old Testament and Greek New Testament; or the Clementine Vulgate and Douay-Rheims Version translated into English from the Latin. In this battle, the name of “King James” (Regnal Years:1603-1625) stood as an English speaking British Protestant leader, being Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Ireland, on the King James Version translated from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; in contradistinction to the Clementine, being named after Pope Clement (Pope: 1592-1605), or the name of the Douay-Rheims Version, being named after the foreign Roman Catholic French speaking cities of Douay (Douai) and Rheims (Reims) in France, and translated from the Latin. Unfortunately, there are so many variants, that textual analysis of all of them is not reasonably possible for me. However, I have still made a much wider and more detailed selection than e.g., the UBS NT textual commentary (1971, 1994), and a sufficient number in my first volume of Matthew 1-14 (2008 & 2010) and second volume of Matt. 15-20 (2009) to make the point that the TR is not only a trustworthy and reliable text; but the very best text available.


In dealing with this unstable feature of neo-Alexandrian texts, I thus also make reference to some classic neo-Alexandrian critical texts of yesteryear, namely, Tischendorf’s 8th edition (1869-72), Westcott-Hort (1881), Nestle’s 21st edition (1952), the UBS 3rd (1975) and 3rd corrected (1983) editions, together with the contemporary NU Text of Nestle-Aland’s 27th edition (1993) and UBS’s 4th revised edition (1993). I.e., the NU Text et al.


Many pages on debasement in modern versions - 10 degrees of debasement


At the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, King James I, started the process that in 1611 gave rise to the King James Version after seven years work. The Devil knew that these translators were not like the spiritual and intellectual dwarfs who undertook the modern translations which now plague us. These were not anti-natural law, anti-intellectual Puritans, incapable of composing the Received Text.


Our Authorized King James Versions were fine-tuned under the supervision of deeply spiritual and intellectual gifted godly men, most of whom were accustomed to living their lives under God’s directive will (and who also held in check any recalcitrants who lacked such full submission, such as Bishop Andrewes). They were regenerated by the power of the Holy Ghost, and humbly relying upon the blessing of Almighty God, they fine-tuned the English translation of the KJV in order that we might use the King James Version in spiritual battle with the Devil in ways that no modern translation is equipped to do. This includes the recognition of key historicist passages of Scripture. Let us not put down the sharp two-edged sword of our King James Versions and exchange it for the blunted blade of these modern versions which are translated by intellectually and spiritually inferior men. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).


The fundamental claim by e.g., the Church of Scotland General Assembly (1946), that the AV and RV (or by extension the ASV) ought to be replaced because they use archaic English, is a misplaced criticism and shows a lack of understanding of the AV’s, RV’s, and ASV’s original English. When it was published in 1611, e.g., the AV’s “thee,” “thou,” “ye,” “gat,” or “spake” were already archaic.

Like Shakespeare’s plays, the King James Version was written in an educated English, but one which the common man could, with relatively little effort, learn and understand. The AV was based on the Protestant premise that the Bible should be in a language understandable to the people, but not on the NASB, NKJV, or NIV type of idea that it should be in the common “English as she’s spoken, mate,” language of the day. The AV translators deliberately used words which in 1611 were archaic in their day, but with which, with relatively little effort, men could learn. Though the primary reason for this relates to the need to distinguish between a singular and plural “you,” the reasons were in fact manifold.


reference is made to this at the Sermon Audio “Newest Broadcasters” web page. This showed “Gavin McGrath” for sermons from “Mangrove Mountain Union Church” having “Joined: 10/8/2009 [Oct. 8, 2009],”


I also make some reference to the NKJV which represents the Majority Text views of the nineteenth century Church of England’s Dean, Dean John Burgon. ... although because its textual apparatus is a much reduced selection of the Majority Text variants as found in Hodges & Farstad (1982 & 1985), a large number of differences between the Majority Text and the TR are not apparent in the NKJV’s skimpy textual apparatus. ... NKJV, were all designed to try and move people familiar with the King James Version, away from using the Authorized Version,

In comparison, I note that neo-Byzantine supporters of the Received Text will sometimes follow a reading from the Latin textual tradition and/or ancient or mediaeval church writers, that has no Byzantine manuscript support. However, this only occurs when textual analysis of the Byzantine Greek Text warrants it, and is remedied by it, so they are still fairly classified as neo-Byzantine, even when the reading comes from outside the Byzantine Textual tradition i.e., from a Greek church writer of from the Latin.


The type of religiously liberal form criticism of men like Rudolph Bultmann and James Moffatt has done enormous spiritual damage to men’s souls. Its poison has e.g., been injected in theological colleges, and has stunted the spiritual growth and ministries of numerous clergymen. It is rightly rejected by Protestants such as Gerhard Maier in his work, The End of the Historical-Critical Method (1974 & 1977)211.

211 Maier, G., The End of the Historico-Critical Method, 1974 (Das Ende de Historisch-Kritischen Methode), translated by E.W. Leverenz & R.F. Norden, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, USA, 1977. Though I would classify Josh McDowell as a good Source Book compiler, rather than an intellectual writer in his own right, with the consequence that his work is only as good as the sources he puts together; nevertheless, I would also recommend his More Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Historical evidences for the Christian Scriptures, Campus Crusade for Christ, USA, 1975.


The key words read in the Authorized Version, “it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order” (Luke 1:3, emphasis mine). .... Therefore, this is an example of a Scripture where its correct translation can only be determined on the basis of a translator’s theology i.e., there is no such thing as “a neutral theological translation” of Luke 1:3. ... As one who upholds the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture (Exod. 4:12,15; Isa. 51:16; Jer. 1:7; II Tim. 3:16; II Peter 1:21), I for one do not doubt that the correct translation of Luke 1:3 is that found in the neo-Byzantine’s King James Version.


double procession of the Holy Ghost,
Last edited: