Endorsement to Dr. Gail Riplinger’s new book
James H. Sightler, M.D.
I am happy to give my complete endorsement to Dr. Gail Riplinger’s
new book Hazardous Materials, Greek and Hebrew Study Dangers, The
Voice of Strangers.
This new hardback book, with 1203 pages, very well illustrated, is an admirable extension of New Age Bible Versions and In Awe of Thy Word. It is much more detailed and incorporates new information and analysis not available when those books were written. The reader should not be hesitant to delve into these details, which give a clearer and much more complete picture of that great Victorian Web of characters, most English but some American, who shaped biblical criticism and worldviews in the mid 19th century. Unbelief we have always had with us, but it seems to have reached a zenith in the Victorian Web. The Web sometimes involved theologians, philosophers, poets, novelists, academicians, and political figures; sometimes by personal contact and friendship, sometimes government service, sometimes philosophical agreement from reading the writings of other members of the Web, sometimes only correspondence between members who were not acquainted, or even an osmotic taking up of the beliefs of other members of the Web. Not all its members had exactly the same beliefs, but there was a basic similarity between them. In order to understand how revision came about in 1881, how unbelief infiltrated the churches, how that unbelief persists today in many places where it should have been rejected, believers must know in detail the Web and the nature of its members and understand its structure and the unorthodox and often morally wicked principles it put forward. The Victorian Web has been the foundation of the new age movement, and its intellectual descendents from that day forward have always promoted revision of the King James Bible. Dr. Riplinger’s new book expounds the 19th century problems clearly, while it also points out the history of unbelief in much earlier days. We also now know that it was indeed Westcott and Hort and Lightfoot, the Cambridge Triumvirate, who introduced not only text criticism but Higher Criticism as well to Britain between 1850 and 1900.1
Why is there today a body of fundamental, believing Christians and churches whose theology and practice is exactly the same as that of the early New Testament churches? It is because the true church has always had the scriptures, in translated vernacular form, to search and study and draw sustenance from, to bear witness to and provide the guidance of the Holy Ghost who gives understanding to believers in the true churches.
In 1925 Kirsopp Lake, a text critic trained in the Victorian Web, candidly admitted:
Fundamentalism is…survival of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians. How many were there, for instance, in Christian churches in the eighteenth century who doubted the infallible inspiration of all Scripture? A few, perhaps, but very few. No, the Fundamentalist may be wrong; I think that he is. But it is we who have departed from the tradition, not he, and I am sorry for the fate of anyone who tries to argue with a Fundamentalist on the basis of authority. The Bible and the corpus theologicum of the Church is on the Fundamentalist side.”2
What was the outlook of that Victorian Web? The foremost characteristic was unbelief in the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture and its literal truth, whether Hebrew or Greek manuscript or any translation. This leads at once to the denial of the truths of the first 11 chapters of Genesis and to espousal of an evolutionary view of everything: society, law, language, religion, morality, the creation of the cosmos, and biology. It brings about the denial of the primacy of Hebrew language (with vowel points given by God at least as early as Moses if not before the flood) and Hebrew civilization and promotes the view that Egypt and India were the first civilizations with Indo-European or Sanskrit the earliest language. With respect to the evolution of religion, A. P. Stanley, Dean of Westminster, host and organizer of the English Revision Committee, believed, with the German higher critic Bunsen, that the intended sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham was a relic of early Jewish worship of Moloch, and that his failure to carry it through was an illustration of the evolution of Judiasm from Cannanite worship of Moloch to worship of Jehovah3 and not a prefigure of God’s plan of redemption through his Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It denied the first institution God gave, the family, consisting of a man and his complementary helpmeet, woman, and children, the man being the leader of the family but loving his wife as Christ loved the church. It denied the existence of Satan and of the fall of man which resulted from questioning of what God had commanded. It denied or gave no importance to the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It denied the transcendence of God and his existence separate from his created universe. This in its turn means that God is in everything or that everything has proceeded from the substance of God. Therefore there is no distinction between good and evil and God is within every man. No religion can be exclusively the only way to God and redemption; therefore we have the universalism of the Broad Church and pagan monism, if you will, which is the belief that all things are one; as Westcott put it so often “the one life.” Today we hear the same concept referred to as “the circle of life.” To Westcott the one life was the life of Christ in every man rather than in those who have been saved by grace by the blood of Jesus who is the only begotten Son of God. Evolution is inherently monistic and was the prevailing philosophy of the Broad Church and the Victorian Web in the mid-19th century.
If the transcendence of God is denied, and there is no distinction between good and evil, then there is no absolute truth and no foundation for God’s schoolmaster, His Law, and no need for atonement and grace if there was no fall. No absolute truth means no absolute basis for a rational and stable lexicography to be employed in translation of any biblical manuscript. Dynamic rather than formal equivalence becomes the preferred method of translation. We are then doomed to continual revision of the Bible and to an ever increasing separation from the ancient doctrines of the church. The new NIV scheduled for 2011 is likely to be gender neutral. We must not heed the voice of these strangers whether they are the wicked, some even perverted, Greek and Hebrew lexicographers of the Victorian Web or their modern day academic disciples.
Socialism is one more inevitable result of monism. If, as monists believe, there is only one reality, one life, then the natural expression of that belief is collectivity in the practices of daily life and de-emphasis of individuality. Westcott was the leader of the Christian Socialist movement in Britain. The Bible in contrast upholds individuality and individual liberty and responsibility. The Magna Carta is based on Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and circumscribes the behavior of a king and any other elected representative of the people. The right to life, liberty, and property are firmly established in the Bible, and that is why they are held to in the American Declaration of Independence. Both of these documents fortunately predate the Victorian Web and its influence and our Declaration is the result of the orthodox Christianity of our founding fathers.
Mysticism and the occult beliefs of many members of the Web are also natural consequences of monistic philosophy. Dr. Riplinger shows how mysticism or critical text unbelief have characterized many famous Biblical critics and lexicographers; from Cardinal Bessarion to Reuchlin and his kabbala in the Renaissance, to the liberal Liddell, Ginsburg the kabbalist, Thayer the Unitarian, Moulton, Milligan, Trench, George Ricker Berry (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament) and C. A. Briggs in the time of the Victorian Web, and down to Bauer, Kittel, Danker, Zodhiates, and Bruce Metzger in the present day.
Perhaps the most infamous of the 19th century lexicographers was Henry Liddell, author of the Liddell-Scott lexicon and Dean of Christ Church at Oxford. He was director of the Oxford University Press and with Prime Minister Gladstone agreed in 1871 to have the Oxford and Cambridge university presses pay for revision and then publish the ERV in 1881. His closest friends, all members of the Web, several in the Broad church party, were George Eliot (nee Mary Ann Evans), A. P. Stanley, John Ruskin, Charles Kingsley, Benjamin Jowett, Max Muller, C. L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Robert Scott, who was one of the revisers, and Cecil Rhodes. Dodgson never married and held a mathematical lectureship at Christ College, Oxford, from 1853-1879. He was supposed to become a priest in 1862, but he admired F. D. Maurice and theosophy and was a friend of George MacDonald, who was also a follower of Maurice, Emerson, and the occultist Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Liddell decided in 1862 not to bring the matter before the Oxford board and so allowed Dodgson to remain on the Christ Church faculty as the only member not ordained.
Liddell then tolerated an outrageous pedophilic attraction of Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) to his daughter Alice Liddell, who became Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The idea for Alice began in 1862 during a rowboat trip Carroll and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth took with Alice and her 13 and 8 year old sisters. It was George Macdonald who insisted on publication of Carroll’s stories begun during that trip.4 Carroll took provocative photographs of Alice partly clothed and of at least 5 other young girls who were nude. About half of his many photographs were of young girls. He asked to court Alice in 1863 when she was 11 and he was 31 but the relationship seemed to end shortly after. Dodgson knew John Ruskin, whose marriage was annulled in 1854 after 6 years for lack of consummation. After 1863 Ruskin, who also knew George MacDonald, was attracted to Alice Liddell and 4 years later to a 10 year old girl.
One of the worst consequences of unbelief in the truth of the Bible that the Victorian Web gave us is a denial of the distinction between man and woman, a distinction founded in God’s creation. God made a basic difference in the genetic constitution of men and women and ordained their proper relationship in the Bible. But androgyny is pagan and is another consequence of monism. Some in the Victorian Web, such as Professor Benjamin Jowett of Oxford, unwisely and wickedly taught the toleration or acceptance of ancient Greek sexual practice as a Platonic intellectual ideal, and many in the Web let that teaching progress to openly aberrant sexuality-sodomy and pederasty. These hazardous and horrible things appeared in mid-19th century private and exclusive English educational institutions at both preparatory and college levels and were engaged in by a chaplain to the Queen and prominent future member of the English Revision Committee of 1881, Charles John Vaughan. He began his pederasty as early as 1851 with an 11 year old student. Sodomy was also frequently practiced among the students themselves. Vaughan, headmaster of Harrow School and the brother in law of Dean of Westminster, A. P. Stanley, hired Westcott as a teacher at Harrow School in 1852 when he was 36 and Westcott 27. His behavior was known and tolerated by a number of Greek scholars who were to become members of the New Testament committee while the Westcott-Hort Greek text was being compiled, long before revision began in 1870. Dr. Riplinger shows us the close friendship and collaboration between Vaughan, Westcott, and those later leaders of the committee. Finally after 8 years his pederasty became known to some students and to an upstanding and influential contemporary physician and father of a student who, by threat of public revelation of the scandal, forced Vaughan to resign as headmaster of Harrow in 1859 and become vicar of Doncaster in Wales. Westcott for a time took Vaughan’s place. Prime Minister Gladstone knew Vaughan’s problem but in 1869 plucked him out of the well deserved exile his behavior had brought about, giving him a prominent ecclesiastical position, Master of the Temple in London.5 This carried with it a seat as First Baron of the Realm in the House of Lords and paved the way for his appointment as a New Testament reviser.
Today we witness the admitted lesbianism of an adviser to the NIV translators and see about us here the movement for homosexual marriage, for repeal of the defense of marriage act, for open homosexuality in the military, and the introduction and teaching of homosexual behavior to children even of kindergarten age. These developments in our society may be traced directly back to the beliefs of many members of the Victorian Web. The line runs from the present day czar of the “safe schools program”, Kevin Jennings, back to Harry Hay, to Edward Carpenter, to Walt Whitman, to C. J. Vaughan, and many others.
Many things never before documented in any book defending the King James Bible are directly and strongly given in this new book. In the Preface to the King James Bible, in a section entitled ‘Translation Necessary,’ the KJB translators plainly describe Hebrew as the “the ancientest” tongue with no indication that their view was ever controversial. They believed, as did John Gill, the early origin of the vowel points as well as the primacy of the Hebrew language. So much for Max Muller and his Sanskrit. So much also for Elias Levita, who spent 13 years privately teaching the kabbala to Cardinal Egidius Viterbo, and just after in 1527 displaced ben Chayyim from the Bomberg press. Levita argued, in opposition to ben Chayyim and Bomberg, that the vowel points began with the Tiberian masoretes about 500 AD. So much also for C. D. Ginsburg, one of the higher critics on the ERV Old Testament committee, who also held to Levita’s arguments. Ginsburg denied, with the higher critics, that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He was as well a mystical kabbalist admirer of Madame Blavatsky. He even said that the late Masoretic origin of the vowel points was consistent with the Kaballah of the Sohar. But the great George Sayles Bishop, 19th century defender of the KJB, believed in the early origin and originality of the vowel points. Actually it is incorrect to speak of a Masoretic text at all because the masoretes were not the first to add vowel points to the text. The Jews would have considered that adding to the word of God.
Now Dr. Riplinger has shown us that all currently available Hebrew Masoretic Texts from the Trinitarian Bible Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, edited and corrupted by Ginsburg and Letteris, contain omissions or changes in the Old Testament. The KJB translators using the “originall tongues,” both Hebrew and vernacular, did not fear to use other sources when they knew that the ben Chayyim text was in error or incomplete. The ben Chayyim Hebrew Bible omitted Joshua 21:36-37 and Nehemiah 7:68. Dr. Riplinger gives us 8 other examples of words or phrases where the KJB differs from all the available Hebrew texts but agrees with vernacular translations.
Dr. Riplinger gives a timely and long needed demonstration that F. H. A. Scrivener was not truly conservative but favorably disposed to critics such as Semler, Griesbach, Lachman, Tischendorf, and Tregelles. Scrivener denied verbal plenary inspiration, accepted concept inspiration, predicted the demise of the KJB, followed many of the rules of the Westcott-Hort theory, and was not a true ally of Dean Burgon. Scrivener favored the “old” uncials and used the critical text in 47 doctrinally important New Testament verses, omitting Acts 8:37, omitting the pericope of adultery from John 7:53-8:11, omitting God from I Tim. 3:16, omitting broken from I Cor. 11:24, omitting the doxology of the Lord’s prayer in Matt. 6:13, mutilation of the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11: 2, 4, with many other changes. Neither Scrivener nor Burgon ever contended for the inclusion of the Trinitarian Johannine Comma at I John 5:7-8.
Scrivener edited an edition of the Greek text by and for the English Revision Committee of 1881, which many have thought to be a back translation of the English and identical to that of the KJB. But it is deeply flawed. Scrivener wrongly assumed that the KJB translators had access only to printed editions of the textus receptus. He admitted that his Greek choices in many places were subjective. Dr. Riplinger gives us 20 examples of his Greek errors. In 59 verses he claimed the KJB translators used Latin Vulgate readings. But in the preface to the KJB translation they express contempt for the Vulgate. In those 59 places they followed the “Originall Greeke,” both printed editions and handwritten Greek manuscripts, and vernacular editions such as Tyndale’s, which even Scrivener admits “had been founded on the text of other Greek editions”6 Dr. Riplinger readily gives Greek support for 24 of his 59 verses, and shows us that Scrivener also had access to these same Greek readings which matched the KJB rather than the Vulgate. The Trinitarian Bible Society’s New Testament Greek textus receptus and Jay P. Green’s Greek-English New Testament, the only ones available to students today, but both without Scrivener’s original preface, are Scrivener’s text alone and not at all the true Greek text of the KJB.
As early as 1861, ten years before revision began, Scrivener showed his true colors when he called Richard Bentley, who in 1716 became Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, the greatest scholar England had produced. Bentley, in cooperation with Wetstein and the Parisian Benedictines of St. Maur in the 1720’s, using old Vulgate manuscripts from their monastery at St. Germain des Pres and the Vatican codex, tried but failed to do exactly what Westcott and Hort finally did in 1881. He wanted to bring back “the true exemplar of Origen” but faced opposition of colleagues and a lack of money and dropped his project in 1729. But by cooperation with the Benedictines Bentley set New Testament criticism on the Romanizing course from which it has never deviated. Westcott and Hort had neither serious opposition from the Victorian Web nor, thanks to Gladstone and Liddell, a lack of funds.
The KJB translators did not exclusively follow any of the numerous editions of the textus receptus available to them in 1611 but prayerfully chose readings from all of them, both printed and handwritten, and from vernacular editions in several languages as well. Our only authority is not any Greek or Hebrew text but the King James Bible.
The last section gives a wonderful defense of vernacular scriptures and how they have contributed to the preservation of the words of God from the very beginning of the preaching of the gospel to all nations. Some of the “originals” may not have been in Greek, and some Greek manuscripts have been made from vernacular scriptures. The last chapter gives seven great proofs of the inspiration of the King James Bible with which any believer should agree and which I endorse. It is good that this book is now on the record, and it is well worth the time and diligence of any reader interested in the truth.
James H. Sightler, M.D.
October 10, 2009
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Class of 1968
1 Treloar, Geoffrey D., “The Cambridge Triumvirate and the Acceptance of New Testament Higher Criticism in Britain, 1850-1900,” Cambridge University Press Vol. 4 (2006), pp. 13-32.
2 Lake, Kirsopp, The Religion of Yesterday and Tomorrow (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925) pp 61-62.
3 Carpenter, Edward, My Days and Dreams (London, George Allen and Unwin, 1916) p. 53.
Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn, Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church, Vol. I (London, John Murray, Albemarle St., 1865) pp 39-52.
4 Macdonald had to resign his church for preaching universalism and denying eternal punishment. His book, Lilith, had an introduction by Henry David Thoreau. MacDonald became a kabbalist, writer of children’s fantasies, and influenced J.R.R. Tolkien.
5 The Temple is a round stone church built in the twelfth century by the Rosicrucian Knights Templars. It is a church for law students and their professors residing in Lincoln’s Inn, the famous London school for lawyers, near Parliament. This was a Royal Peculiar church, so that the Master was responsible not to the Archbishop of Canterbury but the monarch, and the appointment required consent of the Prime Minister. It was a lifetime position which gave the kind of leisure necessary to be able to work on the revision. The staff of the grand master of the Templars displayed a curved cross of four splays, or blades, red upon white. The eight-pointed red Buddhist cross was also one of the Templar ensigns.
6 Scrivener, F. H. A., ed., The New Testament in Greek According to the Text Followed in the Authorised Version Together with the Variations Adopted in the Revised Version (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1881) preface, pp. v.-xi.