Thanks to the generosity of the Green family of Hobby Lobby, IWU and Wesley Seminary at IWU have been privileged to host some of their manuscript collection this week. Not everyone will be interested in the history of the Bible's transmission, but of course I very much enjoy it. Here are some of the pieces they brought:
1. Some Dead Sea Scrolls that they own, dating from the century before Jesus.
2. The papyrus fragment known as p39, fragment of John 8 dating to the 200s.
3. Some of Codex Climaci Rescriptus, which in its discovered form was a Greek manuscript from the 600s or 700s, but using technology has been able to reveal an original Aramaic translation of the gospels that had been what was written on the vellum originally. It dates to the 500s.
4. Letter of Luther soon before he was condemned.
5. The Complutensian Polyglot, which was very well done but Erasmus got the Greek Bible onto the printing press first.
6. The Geneva Bible, which was the favorite English Puritan Bible of the 1500s, with its Calvinist notes.
7. Original 1611 King James.
8. Elzevir's Greek New Testament, which was the first to refer to the Erasmian Greek text as the "received text" or the textus receptus.
9. Letters of John and Charles Wesley.
10. King James first printed in the US after the Revolutionary War, only Bible printing ever sanctioned by Congress in the 1780s.
Fun stuff. Of course there are still, surprisingly, American Christians who insist on only using the KJV. When you tell them that they're using a version from the 1780s that had already been updated about 5 times, some retrench by saying, "Then we're going to use the 1611 KJV."
Then when you tell them it was an Anglican, compromise translation, that it originally had the Apocrypha, that King James may have been gay, they retrench and say, the Geneva Bible then. I've seen a version of the Geneva Bible that is called "The Patriot's Bible." Really?
The Geneva Bible was never printed in America. It was brought over on the Mayflower... along with the KJV. The Geneva Bible wasn't printed any more after the 1640's, so what patriot are they thinking about in this title?
Great Bibles, yes! Great history, yes! A lot of silly people out there, yes!