Question 36 - The Bible: bumbling apologetics

Steven Avery

Discussion of an important section in the Homestead Heritage book:

The Bible
Is it or Is It Not God?s Word and the Divine Measure of Truth for Human Lives?

This is the Homestead Heritage iteration of a type of bumbling apologetic position.


Question 36
HH: There are said to be 150,000 different readings of the New Testament available.

A: What is a ?reading? really has to be defined, however the data is very stale, way over a century stale. The more general number today in the Greek ms. line is 400,000 or 500,000. The 150k number dates from a Philip Schaff writing in 1881, written as an introduction for Westcott and Hort on p. liii :

The New Testament in the original Greek (1881)
Introduction to the American Edition
Philip Schaff

Homestead Heritage references the very similar 1883:

and the 150k number is ancient history. False non-scholarship.


HH: Of these, only 400 caused doubt about textual meaning.

A: This is an absurd number, again from the hortian dupe and apologist Philip Schaff. (ibid. 1881, p. liv.) There are over 4,000 differences in the NT included in the apparatus differences of sources like Nestle-Aland, UBS and Ruben Swanson . And the apparatus differences are almost always inclusive of ?textual meaning?. 4,000, not 400. And the 400 is itself is a high amount of doubt for what is supposed to be God?s pure word.

Plus, you should note that a ?different reading? can itself be as much as the inclusion or omission of a full verse, or 12 full verses (counted as only one reading, the Mark ending and the Pericope Adulterae are 12 veres each) In such a section, the one variant has multiple meanings and various doctrines are involved.


HH: and only 50 of these were of any significance

A: Absurd. More Schaff deception, (1881 p. liv , 1883, p. 177.. ?not more than about fifty are really important for some reason or another? .. in fact Homestead Heritage has totally mangled by faux editing even the Schaff mangling of truth. Shoddy scholarship and writing on the Homestead Heritage part is the nicest that can be said, since Schaff did not talk of ?any significance? but ?really important??.)

In fact, it is easy to find 500 textual variants in the NT of real solid ?significance?. The ?Magic Marker? page of Brandon Staggs (author of the Swordsearcher software and involved in a fascinating vidoe back-and-forth with James White on Acts 8:37 and a truly wonderful gentleman)

The King James Bible Page
Would you take a magic marker to your Bible and cross out words from passages?

is excellently done, and has about 200 glaring omissions. And we can show a totally different list of 25 hard errors in the Critical Text New Testament. Will Kinney and Ken Matto and others have research writings on 100s of other variants where there are real problems caused by the Alexandrian corruption, which is usually ultra-minority in the Greek ms line. So, on any ?significance? the number is easily in the thousands, on glaring significance, 500 is a reasonable number, within the under 8,000 verses. In fact, looking at the language used, it is hard to find a ?textual meaning? that is not ?significant?, so the very claim itself is word-parsing of no substance.

Proverbs 30:5
Every word of God is pure:
he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.


HH: "Not one of the variations altered an article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of scriptural teachings.? ? Phillip Schaff

A: Nonsense. ?God was manifest in the flesh? is fought tooth and nail by the low-Christology unitarians and adoptionists and ebionites not as a scholastic game, but because of the incredible significance in declaring the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, which they deny. The ?only-begotten God? of the literal Critical Text in John 1:18 (NASV, Emphasized) is affirmed by the Arians, like the JWs, precisely because it fits their doctrine of Jesus being a begotten God. The ascension is removed from the modern versions. The believer?s baptism testimony of Acts 8:37, which Homestead Heritage used to teach as a fundamental of the faith, is removed, and is nowhere else to be found. Maybe Homestead Heritage would prefer to remove it today, since the emphasis is simply on the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It would be interesting to know if Homestead Heritage teaches this verse as scripture today. In the CT (critical text), Luke does not have that amazing verse where Jesus asks the Father to forgive from the cross. The signs following of the Mark ending, along with the resurrection appearances of Jesus, are gone. Jesus does not teach the forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery in the hortian versions.

In fact, the very concepts of Bible infallibility and inerrancy were radically changed to accommodate all the new errors brought into the versions and the new concept of a probability text.

Articles of faith everywhere can be different, the situation is even worse today when we consider the tendency to cherry-pick the actual English version text from dozens of available versions. Homestead Heritage tris to find the version that they feel matches their eschatology or soteriology at specific points. Even basic issues like young earth creationism or the words condemning sodomy can be made comportable to errant and perverse views, by searching around. Homestead Heritage members can even go to The Message, where they will get a new age flair under the veneer of supposedly ?Christian? views.

In fact, the public discussion by Christians of the Bible has become one big mumble-jumble of competing texts and translations. The center does not hold. Each one supports their views by whatever texts are available. Homestead Heritage does similar when it rummages through the versions looking for a text that can be used to support their doctrines. (This does not mean that any particular doctrine is false, it simply means that the Homestead Heritage smorgasbord approach will give unreliable results. Results that should be rejected as based on an insufficient and inconsistent methodology.)

There is an important and incredible exception, however, with Reformation Bible and those who esteem the Authorized Version as God?s pure word. They can seek to reason together, to discern sound doctrine, with the straight and true plumb line. Thank you Lord Jesus for your pure word.

Psalm 12:6-7
The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth,
purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O LORD,
thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Psalm 119:140
Thy word is very pure:
therefore thy servant loveth it.

The claim (article of faith .. precept of duty) given by Homestead Heritage is simply the parroting of word parsing from Philip Schaff designed (consciously or not) to deceive the reader about the significance of the words of God. A whole industry developed around corruption version pseudo-apologetics.

A major element of this was Benjamin Warfield?s abandonment of infallibility and inerrancy apologetics in any tangible, readable Bible. The traditional view defended the source language texts, the Reformation Bibles from the Received Text, as the inspired and preserved apographa. And with the translations into English and other languages being fully capable of being invested with the same properties of excellence, majesty and accuracy. This Warfieldian (and later, Chicago Statement) change, to what is essentially a laughable new doctrine (infallibility and inerrancy in an unknown and unknowable text), spearheaded by Warfield, was a necessary and important compliment to the nouveau Westcott and Hort recension corrupt text, with its many hard errors. Warfield had to deal with the new concept of the textual criticism probability text, which can change any year as theories change, as new textual discoveries are found or faked, and the text can even vary among each individual proponent. No verse is really sure. This change to ethereal, unknown and unknowable autographs from Warfield was necessary in order to keep a veneer of evangelicism. In the Homestead Heritage book, they support this disaster.

Returning to the ?articles of faith?? .. to have any meaning at all, first Homestead heritage would have to clearly and precisely define what is every ?article of faith? and every ?precept of duty?. Which is never done. Would they accept as true and complete a list of ?articles of faith? and ?precepts of duty? given by Philip Schaff? Do they agree with Schaff that the verses affect some passages on the ?doctrine of the Trinity?? Or do they agree with revision scholar George Vance Smith? (Who denied even the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and emphasized how important the Revision was for his doctrinal viewpoints. See ?Texts and margins of the revised New Testament affecting theological doctrine briefly reviewed.?) Surely, Homestead Heritage does do not think that Schaff was talking of the Homestead Heritage ?articles of faith?!

Please, let us strive for some consistency and scholastic honesty. Let?s eschew the quote-snippet mentality. Lets avoid vagaries like unknown ?articles of faith?.

Ironically, Schaff even quotes Richard Bentley and the unitarian Ezra Abbott (who was against worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, as a ?creature?, which made the American Revision notes) in making these claims. Richard Bentley was attempting to parry Anthony Collins, who was analogous to Bart Ehrman today, so at least that could be an interesting historical study.


HH: The fact of so many readings allows us to immediately dismiss 19/20th of the variations from consideration as being obviously out of character with the thousands which substantiate each other.

A: Eliminating 19/20th of the more accurate 400,000 leaves 20,000 variants. So what good is it to be ?allowed? to reduce the conundrum to only 20,000 variants? This would leave 2 1/2 variant problems per verse average in each of the almost 8,000 verses. Not a big help.

Now, the 19/20th is technically accurate in the sense that there really are less than 20,000 of the 400,000 Greek ms textual variants that have any real pizazz or significance. A good number is 5,000 overall, translatable, although of course only 1,000 or so are glaring. However, sometimes what looks like a piddle corruption (e.g the faux ultra-minority grammar of a demon being personified in Mark) can have major implications in the rolly-bolly world of New Testament exegesis.

Anyway, all this 19/20th stuff is generally irrelevant. Similar number juggling was used by Daniel Wallace in his own special case of statistical illiteracy where he bases statistical manipulation on misplacing large numbers, in a grossly deficient attempt to attack both the Received Text and the Greek Byzantine Majority Texts.

When this irrelevancy that Homestead Heritage quotes is given with a reference, the reference goes like this:

"Dr. Ezra Abbott was accustomed to remark that about nineteen-twentieths of the variations have so little support that, although there are various readings, no one would think of them as rival readings, and nineteen-twentieths of the remainder are of so little importance that their adoption or rejection would cause no appreciable difference in the sense of the passages in which they occur.? ?

An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1887)
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield

Warfield was working with 200,000 variants, with 400,000 variants that would leave 1,000 appreciable differences. 400,000 x .05 x. .05 = 1,000. Do you see how charlatans can play with numbers by emphasizing and doing the math on the irrelevant large numbers? Sounds impressive, means nothing. Like the 400,000 total variants. Why not simply say .. ?There are 500 or 1000 appreciable differences? (really the number is 1000s.) Simply because it is harder to be a charlatan if you speak accurately.

A longer Ezra Abbot quote, with its own nuances and differences and deceptions, is given by Schaff, when Abbot was trying to defend the decrepit Revision, American version.


HH: Indeed, there is an ambiguity involved in saying that there are 150,000 variants. If one single word is misspelled in 3,000 different manuscripts, this was counted as 3,000 variants or readings.

A: Totally false! This was a well-known and quite embarrassing blunder from Neil R. Lightfoot and the more public Norman Geisler and William Nix, starting in the 1960s. Later, parroted by others, like Josh McDowell, ignorant men on this topic, now referenced as scholars by Homestead Heritage. This situation was so bad that Daniel Wallace has even written a paper (helpful for correction yet itself uneven) about this specific blunder, this ?evangelical miscalculation.? That phrase is sufficient to find the paper online, along with discussion.

Now I understand men of no textual understanding, hortian dupes like Lightfoot and Geisler, making the blunder. The fact that it is parroted by Homestead Heritage is not good, it shows that their Bible textual agenda is multi-version pseudo-apologetics, as part of allowing Alexandrian corruption versions. And the goal is not one of seeking to understand these issues. Anybody with a little sense and background would never fall for this blunder.


Es suficiente. A small review of the rest.

The statements on Question 13 continue with this type of error, confusion and disinformation. They are actually, at best, worthless assertions. Would Homestead Heritage like more corrections? I would be happy to continue to go down line by line. If not, here are some highlights.


One of the worst elements is using Alexandrian apologists, who you quote, in an appeal to the numbers of manuscripts, e.g:

?Great multitude of MSS ? easier to reconstruct the original? ? Josh McDowell

These claims are totally hypocritical, since the scholars that McDowell follows consistently reject the mass of Byzantine Greek manuscripts as corrupt. What good is appealing to the number of Greek mss if you think they are woefully corrupt and unreliable? Obviously, a speaker has shot his own position in the foot if he appeals to the 1000s of mss while saying that the mass of mss are worthless and corrupt. Which is in fact the position of all the hortian dupes Homestead Heritage is are referencing.

Another joke is:

?the true meaning of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities.?

So what? How does that help? When that ?true meaning? is not considered the scripture, then the modern version dupes are reading a false meaning and rejecting the true meaning. What good does it say that the ?true meaning? is in some rejected text? All we have is sophistry.

And for Homestead Heritage actually quote statements like:

?Only 40 lines (or 400 words) of the New Testament are in doubt? ? Geisler and Nix

Homestead Heritage must know full well that this is simply not true. And this makes them accomplices in the deliberate deception of the Christian believer. Homestead Heritage should know full well, if nothing else, that 40+ full verses are included in the Reformation Bible texts and called non-scripture by the corruption version scholars. Why are they quoting what you know to be false? Why are they writing as hortian dupes who think the Critical Text is the verified pure Bible? Homestead Heritage even said to me that you reject the Alexandrian ultra-minority corruptions that pollute that text. The text that the writers of these quotes presume to be accurate.

?Seven-eights of the whole vocabulary of the New Testament is accepted without controversy.? ? Geisler and Nix

This would be 87.5% of the words. This actually comes from Westcott and Hort from 1881.

It would leave the equivalent of 1,000 verses as unaccepted. Is this meant to be an argument they would use responsibly? Or is a concession speech from the probability text positions? (?We do not know the word of God.?) Or is Homestead Heritage just trying to dazzle the reader with numbers? Hort in his normal turgid and obtuse style continues from that point.

?Substantial variation. Hardly form more than 1/1000 of the entire text? ? Westcott & Hort

Again, totally false (from the same page above.) That would be the equivalent of 8 verses. How do you pigeon-hole the 40+ full verses and the 4,000+ CT-TR differences into those 8 verses? Why are you trying to deceive your readers with dazzle numbers?

?Mathematically this would compute to a text that is 98.33% pure? ? Geisler and Nix

Here we add the fallacy of false precision. This charlatan number, parroted by Josh McDowell and Homestead Heritage and others, goes back to Westcott and Hort in 1881:

The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881)
Westcott and Hort

?one sixtieth of the whole New Testament?

Since Hort?s 59/60 = 98.33.

And Hort, unlike Geisler and Homestead Heritage, was at least honest enough to at least point out that these last two computations, 1/1000 and 98.33%, are conditional, with a very dubious base:

?If the principles followed in the present edition are sound, this area may be very greatly reduced.?

However, Hort?s principles, and the resulting Alexandrian text, are totally unsound. As Homestead Heritage well knows. So we have GIGO, given falsely in Homestead Heritage literature as fact. Homestead Heritage in this section hides behind quoting ignorant and errant assertions from others, claims that are not defensible.

Affirmation by proxy is often a fallacious approach, and one that we associate with the probabalism mentality of the Jesuits. We find this proxy-style faux appeal to authority drifts into modern version and Critical Text corruption version defense with writer after writer. And I would hope that Homestead Heritage would have the insight and wisdom to eschew this trickery.

Now, it is clear that the Homestead Heritage research was largely using Josh McDowell as the fulcrum, since he provides the beginning quote-mining, and then working backwards to the McDowell sources. This is not a good way to study or learn the history, or the field of textual analysis, or the numbers.

Sidenote: Note 65: Hort is given the wrong initials, Fenton John Anthony is F. J. A. This is correct in the text, wrong in the footnote.

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