The Kings James Gets The All Inclusive Christmas Message Right, The Others Not So Much…Luke 2:14 Examined.
Many people love to fault the KJV. But if you take out “hell” and “for ever,” it is actually a very good translation. I want to defend the KJV as it, Young’s, and as many as follow the traditional Greek text, acknowledge the universal salvation Christmas message in Luke 2:14. In other words, Linus was wise for choosing the KJV!
The King James in Luke 2:14 reads, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Believe it or not, the other versions destroy the truth here by altering “good will toward men.” One person recently objected to an article I wrote on Luke 2:14 by quoting the ESV which reads, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” In other words, this person argued, God is only pleased with certain people while the rest burn. The “all people” of verse 10 are only a select few in verse 14 because the “critical” Greek text limits God’s love to only a select portion of the human race.
But the versions which follow the “critical” text, the one which Wescott and Hort SECRETLY smuggled into the Revised Version committee, change the truth of God into a lie in Luke 2:14. The following words are from Dean Burgon, a true textual critic, who defends the KJV reading – the HAPPY KJV reading which is supported by the texts and history. Enjoy!
A more grievous perversion of the truth of Scripture is scarcely to be found than occurs in the proposed revised exhibition of S. Luke 2:14, in the Greek and English alike; for indeed not only is the proposed Greek text (ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας) impossible, but the English of the Revisionists (“peace among men in whom he is well pleased”) “can be arrived at” (as one of themselves has justly remarked) “only through some process which would make any phrase bear almost any meaning the translator might like to put upon it.” More than that: the harmony of the exquisite three-part hymn, which the Angels sang on the night of the Nativity, becomes hopelessly marred, and its structural symmetry destroyed, by the welding of the second and third members of the sentence into one. Singular to relate, the addition of a single final letter (ς) has done all this mischief. Quite as singular is it that we should be able at the end of upwards of 1700 years to discover what occasioned its calamitous insertion. From the archetypal copy, by the aid of which the old Latin translation was made, (for the Latin copies all read “pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis,”) the preposition ἐν was evidently away,—absorbed apparently by the ἀν which immediately follows. In order therefore to make a sentence of some sort out of words which, without ἐν, are simply unintelligible, εὐδοκία was turned into εὐδοκίας. It is accordingly a significant circumstance that, whereas there exists no Greek copy of the Gospels which omits the ἐν, there is scarcely a Latin exhibition of the place to be found which contains it.89 To return however to the genuine clause,—“Good-will towards men” (ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία).
Absolutely decisive of the true reading of the passage—irrespectively of internal considerations—ought to be the consideration that it is vouched for by every known copy of the Gospels of whatever sort, excepting only א a b d: the first and third of which, however, were anciently corrected and brought into conformity with the Received Text; while the second (a) is observed to be so inconstant in its testimony, that in the primitive “Morning-hymn” (given in another page of the same codex, and containing a quotation of S. Luke 2:Uni14), the correct reading of the place is found. d’s complicity in error is the less important, because of the ascertained sympathy between that codex and the Latin. In the meantime the two Syriac Versions are a full set-off against the Latin copies; while the hostile evidence of the Gothic (which this time sides with the Latin) is more than neutralized by the unexpected desertion of the Coptic version from the opposite camp. The Armenian, Georgian, Æthiopic, Slavonic and Arabian versions, are besides all with the Received Text. It therefore comes to this:—We are invited to make our election between every other copy of the Gospels,—every known Lectionary,—and (not least of all) the ascertained ecclesiastical usage of the Eastern Church from the beginning,—on the one hand: and the testimony of four Codices without a history or a character, which concur in upholding a patent mistake, on the other. Will any one hesitate as to which of these two parties has the stronger claim on his allegiance?
Could doubt be supposed to be entertained in any quarter, it must at all events be borne away by the torrent of Patristic authority which is available on the present occasion:—
In the second century,—we have the testimony of (1) Irenæus.
In the third,—that of (2) Origen in 3 places,—and of (3) the Apostolical Constitutions in 2.
In the fourth—(4) Eusebius,—(5) Aphraates the Persian,—(6) Titus of Bostra, each twice;—(7) Didymus in 3 places;—(8) Gregory of Nazianzus,—(9) Cyril of Jerusalem,—(10) Epiphanius twice;—(11) Gregory of Nyssa 4 times,—(12) Ephraem Syrus,—(13) Philo bishop of Carpasus,—(14) Chrysostom, in 9 places,—and (15) a nameless preacher at Antioch,—all these, contemporaries (be it remembered) of b and א, are found to bear concurrent testimony in favour of the commonly received text.
In the fifth century,—(16) Cyril of Alexandria, on no less than 14 occasions, vouches for it also;—(17) Theodoret on 4;—(18) Theodotus of Ancyra on 5 (once in a homily preached before the Council of Ephesus on Christmas-day, a.d. 431);—(19) Proclus archbishop of Constantinople;—(20) Paulus bishop of Emesa (in a sermon preached before Cyril of Alexandria on Christmas-day, a.d. 431);—(21) the Eastern bishops at Ephesus collectively, a.d. 431 (an unusually weighty piece of evidence);—and lastly, (22) Basil of Seleucia. Now, let it be remarked that these were contemporaries of codex a.
In the sixth century,—the Patristic witnesses are (23) Cosmas, the voyager, 5 times,—(24) Anastasius Sinaita,—(25) Eulogius archbishop of Alexandria: contemporaries, be it remembered, of codex d.
In the seventh,—(26) Andreas of Crete twice.
And in the eighth,—(27) Cosmas bishop of Maiuma near Gaza,—and his pupil (28) John Damascene,—and (29) Germanus archbishop of Constantinople.
To these 29 illustrious names are to be added unknown writers of uncertain date, but all of considerable antiquity; and some are proved by internal evidence to belong to the fourth or fifth century…and it will be perceived that 18 ancient authorities have been added to the list, every whit as competent to witness what was the text of S. Luke 2. 14 at the time when a b א d were written, as Basil or Athanasius, Epiphanius or Chrysostom themselves.For our present purpose they are Codices of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. In this way then, far more than forty-seven ancient witnesses have come back to testify to the men of this generation that the commonly received reading of S. Luke 2:14 is the true reading, and that the text which the Revisionists are seeking to palm off upon us is a fabrication and a blunder. Will any one be found to maintain that the authority of b and א is appreciable, when confronted by the first 15 contemporary Ecclesiastical Writers above enumerated? or that a can stand against the 7 which follow?
This is not all however. Survey the preceding enumeration geographically, and note that, besides 1 name from Gaul,—at least 2 stand for Constantinople,—while 5 are dotted over Asia Minor:—10 at least represent Antioch; and—6, other parts of Syria:—3 stand for Palestine, and 12 for other Churches of the East:—at least 5 are Alexandrian,—2 are men of Cyprus, and—1 is from Crete. If the articulate voices of so many illustrious Bishops, coming back to us in this way from every part of ancient Christendom and all delivering the same unfaltering message,—if this be not allowed to be decisive on a point of the kind just now before us, then pray let us have it explained to us,—What amount of evidence will men accept as final? It is high time that this were known…. The plain truth is, that a case has been established against א a b d and the Latin version, which amounts to proof that those documents, even when they conspire to yield the self-same evidence, are not to be depended on as witnesses to the text of Scripture. The history of the reading advocated by the Revisionists is briefly this:—It emerges into notice in the second century; and in the fifth disappears from sight entirely.