71 Is the Textus Receptus infallible?
Translators of the Bible have the responsibility to present to the reader a translation that is understandable and that makes sense. In one case this is the reason that we would read over a difference and not even notice it. Such a case is found in Revelation 17:8.
In Biblical times the Greek manuscripts were written in scriptua continua, leaving no space between the different words. The reader had to divide the letters at the proper place to read and understand the sentence.
When Desiderius Erasmus prepared Revelation for the printer, he by mistake divided two words in the wrong place causing different Greek words to be used. He divided the words to be καιπερ εστιν (kaiper= indeed or nevertheless, and estin= to be.) instead of και παρεσται (kai= and, and pareimi= be near or at hand).”
In translations the difference is not that obvious, yet is perfectly obvious in the Greek.
(MKJV) “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend out of the abyss and go into perdition. And those dwelling on the earth will marvel, those whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, AND YET IS.”
When we carefully look into what is written here, it is really nonsensical. “The beast that was, and is not, and nevertheless is”. That he had been in the past, and is not in the present time, makes sense. But to “not be in the present, and indeed be in the present” is impossible! Something cannot “be and not be” at the same time.
The NIV has the correct division of the letters leading to an understandable sentence:
(NIV) The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, AND YET WILL COME. This makes sense. The beast once was, but is not now, but take care, it is imminent that he will come again!
(The Latin Vulgate leaves these words out completely, stopping at: “…because he once was, now is not.”
The codex Sinaiticus adds the word “palin” to read και παλιν παρεσται: “…and yet AGAIN will come.”)
This little human error should have been corrected centuries ago. But even today, followers of the Textus Receptus would rather struggle to make sense from irrational words than change anything that flowed from Erasmus’ hands. I wish he had something of that attitude towards the real Word of God when he compiled his text for the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament!
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