the pure Reformation Bible - Burgon - why contras?

Steven Avery


It is only natural for us to see our Bible as pure, both in the general sense of the underlying text (Received Text editions) and all language versions (Reformation Bible editions) and the apex of majesty, excellence and purity, the AV.
Thus we speak of the:

pure Reformation Bible
pure Bible

On the flip-side a simple phrase exists for the Westcott-Hort recension editions.

textus corruptus

These simple phrases often turn the contras into babblers, with convoluted paroxysms revolving around how we should not call our Bible pure or call the modern versions corrupt. Despite the fact that this is simply the standard and sensible phrasing when writing about Bible texts, no matter what side of the textual divide you are on.

Here is one post from the thread, small modifications here, which gives you some of the current context. This nonsense about word-parsing pure and corrupt has been a weird contra game for years.

the pure Bible - Burgon taking Hort to school, contras should listen

Steven Avery - Nov 26, 2014

Tonight I went through some quotes from John William Burgon:

Revision Revised (1883)
John William Burgon

So far from "its paramount claim to the respect of future generations," being " the restitution of a more ancient and a purer Text,"—I venture to predict that the edition of the two Cambridge Professors will be hereafter remembered as indicating the furthest point ever reached by the self-evolved imaginations of English disciples of the school of Lachmann, Teschendorf, Tregelles. p. xxviii

If so, though you (Dr. Hort) may ' have no doubt' as to which is the purer manuscript ... One is reminded of a passage
in p. 61: viz.—
If we find in any group of documents a succession of Readings exhibiting an exceptional purity of text, that is,—
Readings which the fullest consideration of Internal Evidence pronounces to be right, in opposition to formidable arrays of Documentary Evidence; the cause must be that, as far at least as these Readings are concerned, some one exceptionally pure MS. was the common ancestor of all the members of the group.' p. 253

Hort .. informs us (p. 276) that "the fullest consideration does but increase the conviction that the preeminent relative purity" of those two codices is approximately absolute,—a true approximate reproduction of the Text of the Autographs.' p. 284

Hort .. according to him those primitive Fathers have been the great falsifiers of Scripture; have proved the worst enemies of the pure Word of God .. p. 290

Hort ... how can he possibly overlook the circumstance that, unless he is able to demonstrate that those two codices, and especially the former of them, has preserved not only a very ancient Text, but a very pure line
of ancient Text'
also (p. 251), his entire work, (inasmuch as it reposes on that one assumption,) on being critically handled, crumbles to its base; or rather melts into thin air before the first puff of wind ? p. 305-306

Dr. Hort ... his fundamental position, viz. that Codex B is so exceptionally pure a document as to deserve to be taken as a chief guide in determining the Truth of Scripture. p. 306

Dr. Hort ...considers that his individual 'strong preference' of one set of Readings above another, is sufficient to determine whether the Manuscript which contains those Readings is pure or the contrary. p. 307

And thus, I venture to presume, the imagination has been at last effectually disposed of, that because Codices B and א are the two oldest Greek copies in existence, the Text exhibited by either must therefore be the purest Text which
is anywhere to be met with. p. 328

Compromise of any sort between the two conflicting parties, is impossible also; for they simply contradict one another. Codd. B and x are either among the purest of manuscripts,—or else they are among the very foulest. The Text of Drs. Westcott and Hort is either the very best which has ever appeared,—or else it is the very worst; the nearest to the sacred Autograplis,—or the furthest from them. There is no room for both opinions; and there cannot exist any middle view. p. 365
Notice purest being used in a multiple comparison. Also p. 29 and p. 244.


In fact see the whole conversation between S.O. (supposed objector) and Q.R. (Quarterly Reviewer = Burgon) and on p. 328 F. C. (friendly critic).
(j.) Dialogue of tho Reviewer with a Supposed Objector, in proof that the most ancient document accessible is not of
the purest also .. .. 321 (p. xxxvii topic of this section)

Q. B. " You are perfectly right. The oldest Manuscript must exhibit the purest text: must be the most trustworthy. But then, unfortunately, it happens that we do not possess it. 'The oldest Manuscript' is lost. You speak, of course, of the inspired Autographs. These, I say, have long since disappeared."

At the outset, remember, you delivered it as your opinion that ' the oldest Manuscript we possess, if it be but a very ancient one, must needs be the purest' I asserted, in reply, that 'it does not by any means follow, because a manuscript is very ancient, that therefore its text will be very pure' (p. 321) ; and all that I have been since saying, has but had for its object to prove the truth of my assertion. p. 332


This one is super spot-on.

Now therefore that you re-open the question, I will not scruple publicly to repeat that it seems to me nothing else but an insult to our Divine Master and a wrong to the Church, that the most precious part of our common Christian heritage, the pure Word of God, should day by day, week by week, month by month, year after year, have been thus handled; for the avowed purpose of producing a Translation which should supersede our Authorized Version. p. 506
See also p. 29 p. 288 320 327 for some more examples of Burgon on the pure text issues.

You learn our wonderful English language (the discussions around the fabricated dispute about pure) and you learn about the purity and corruption concepts of Burgon vs. Hort.


Why are they CONTRAS ?

Above, you see the obsession and confusion that refuses to accept a common and well understood term like pure when applied to the Bible editions, texts, manuscripts and versions.

e.g. The pure Reformation Bible.

Even though that usage of pure is common from writers, even of the Hort and Metzger and Comfort ilk.
As well as from Burgon and todays pure Bible defenders.

Now, the honest hortian (oxymoron alert!) would say ...

"no, the Received Text editions are corrupt, and our Critical Text editions are pure."

They would take the contra position and try to defend their text.
Such would be a rare type of honesty, even if the actual position is indefensible.

In practice, contras are buffeted by seeing Bible text issues through their main Bible concern .. opposition to the AV as the pure and perfect word of God.

No text to defend, no pure Bible, simply contra the AV.

And that is why they are called contras.

(At least that is a usage I often find appropriate. YMMV. I'm not trying to make it the common usage, simply explaining how it flows and goes.)

Yours in Jesus,
Steven Avery