History of the Bible

As we are still engaged in research on Bible History, the following articles are subject to revision or correction.

By Elder Robert L. Webb

     The  written  word  of  God  is  reverenced  for  its  vital 
importance  to the welfare of the Church of Jesus Christ, but  it 
was never intended as a means of eternal salvation.  Jesus  said, 
"Search  the  scriptures, for in them ye think  ye  have  eternal 
life,  and  they  are they which testify of me." -  John  5:  39.  
Jesus Christ is the Living Word, and our salvation is wholly  and 
completely in Him.

Ancient Texts and Manuscripts (Original and Copies)

     The  earliest books of the Old Testament were  written  over 
1,400  years  before  the time of Christ.   None  of  the  actual 
original manuscripts of the Old or New Testament books are  known 
to exist.  It pleased God to give His inspired oracles to men  of 
three basic languages, Hebrew, Chaldean, and Greek.

The Old Testament Books

     The  Old  Testament  "oracles of  God"  were  providentially 
committed  to the Jewish, or Hebrew people (Romans 3: 1,2).   The 
ancient  Massoretes (students of Moses' law) devoted their  lives 
to perfection in preserving and copying the Old Testament  books.  
The  story  of  their  work is a  marvelous  testimony  to  God's 
preservation  of  His  word to all generations.   There  is  very 
little controversy regarding the Hebrew text.

The New Testament Books

     About  5,000 copies of the Greek text of the  New  Testament 
exist  in  safekeeping around the world.  The great  majority  of 
these  are identical or almost identical to the  "received  text" 
(also  called  "majority text, "textus receptus,"  or  "Byzantine 
text").   This text was used by the Waldenses, and was  preserved 
by  the true church through the ages.  The King James Version  in 
the  English language was translated from this  text.   Currently 
published  copies  of  the Greek "textus  receptus"  are  readily 
available to be purchased by the inquiring student.

Translation Versus Private Interpretation

     There  is  a vast difference between making more  copies  of 
original manuscripts in the same language and translating from an 
original  text  into a completely  different  language.   Gaussen 
likens  the  work  of translation to "the same  body  putting  on 
different   clothing."   (See  Theopneustia,   or   The   Plenary 
Inspiration  of the Scriptures, by L. Gaussen).  It is worthy  of 
consideration  that the Old Testament books were  not  translated 
into  other languages until very near the time of  the  Christian 
age.   In addition, Jesus and the Apostles evidently  quoted  the 
Greek  translation  (Septuagint),  at  least  in  part;  but  God 
expressly  taught  that no prophecy of the scripture  is  of  any 
"private  interpretation."   The reader should  make  this  clear 
distinction in his mind.  The word "interpret" is sometimes  used 
in  the  New  Testament Scriptures to  mean  "translate"  (See  I 
Corinthians  14:  13,  27).   The  great  question  regarding   a 
translation  is whether the Lord has authorized it  (not  whether 
the Church has authorized it).  Since I believe He purposed  that 
the  scriptures  should be kept by His Church, I believe  He  has 
providentially  directed  their translation  into  the  languages 
(tongues) where His Church has existed.

Early Greek Translations

     The Apostle Paul, the preacher to the gentiles,  could speak 
or  write  in  both Hebrew and Greek (see Acts 21:  40;  the  New 
Testament epistles by Paul were written in Greek).  The  Apostles 
quoted  from the Hebrew text of the Old Testament in many  places 
in  the  New  Testament.   They undoubtedly  had  access  to  the 
original Hebrew text in the original language.

Early English Translations

     The  Scriptures were translated into Latin,  French,  Dutch, 
German,  and  other languages where the Church  of  Jesus  Christ 
existed through the centuries.  When persecution drove the church 
into  English-speaking nations, the Lord providentially  directed 
its  translation there.  Some of the early  English  translations 
include:  John Wycliffe (1380); William Tyndale (1526); Cranmer's 
(1539);  The Geneva Bible (1557); and The  Anglo-Rhemish  (1582).  
These five are shown with the King James Version in a book called 
the English Hexapla.

The King James Translation

     There can be little doubt that it is to the advantage of the 
Church  of  Jesus Christ that the same translation  be  generally 
used  by the people in the nations where the church exists.   The 
King James Translation translators  were primarily  Puritan   and 
Anglican  scholars, whose personal biases were thereby  balanced, 
resulting  in  a  translation which could be  generally  used  by 
English-speaking people.  These were men of remarkable talent and 
integrity.  King James was not personally involved in the work of 
translation,  so  his  character  and  name  is  of  no   special 
consequence.   What  IS  IMPORTANT  is  the  evidence  of   God's 
providential  direction  of  this English  translation,  and  His 
blessing upon it since.

Position of the Primitive Baptist Church

     We   believe  in  the  plenary  inspiration  of   the   Holy 
Scriptures.   Plenary  means "total" or "every word."   The  word 
"scripture" means "that which is written."  When the Apostle Paul 
wrote  that  "all scripture is given by inspiration of  God",  he 
meant the written text.  When the Apostle Peter wrote that  "holy 
men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," he  meant 
that  which  was spoken (even if penned by  scribes).   The  word 
prophecy means "the sayings of God" and thus we may include  both 
Old  and New Testaments in the expression ". . . no  prophecy  of 
the  scripture is of any private interpretation." - II  Peter  1: 
    Elder  Sylvester Hassell expressed the following  belief  (p. 
508  of History of the Church of God):  "The seventeenth  century 
was  the  century  of  the  publication  of  the  King  James  or 
Authorized  Version of the English Bible (in 1611), the best  and 
noblest  of  all the translations of the Bible ever made  in  any 
     We  believe the King James Version is the inspired  Word  of 
God,  dressed  in  English  clothing.   As  such  it  has  divine 
authority,  and should be accepted as such.  We also believe  God 
is able to direct its translation again if that is necessary  for 
the welfare of His Church.


by Elder Robert L. Webb

     A careful study of the history of the ancient Waldenses, and 
of Bible texts and translations, clearly reveals how  inseparable 
the true Bible is from the true Church.  Perhaps this should seem 
obvious,  but  we  think it should encourage the  Church  in  her 
loyalty  to the Received Text, and its best English  translation, 
the  King James Version.  We also sound a solemn warning  to  the 
uninformed:   "Do not regard the nearly 100  modern  translations 
and paraphrases made from corrupted texts as the inspired word of 
     We  have  recently  added  several  of  the  oldest  English 
translations  of the New Testament scriptures to our  collection, 
including  reprints  of the original 1611 King James  Version,  a 
1607 edition of the "Geneva" New Testament, the 1526 Tindale  New 
Testament, and a 1388 manuscript of the Wickliffe New  Testament.  
We  have also added books by Jean Leger (1669), George  S.  Faber 
(1838), and William S. Gilly (1824) to our collection of books on 
the  ancient Waldenses and Albigenses.  See the Appendix in  this 
pamphlet  for  a complete listing of holdings  of  the  Primitive 
Baptist Library on the subject of the history of the Waldenses.  
     We wish to quote from a book entitled Our Authorized Version 
Vindicated, copyright 1930, by Benjamin G. Wilkinson, who  (being 
a  Seventh-Day Adventist) cannot be accused of being  partial  to 
us.      Mr.  Wilkinson wrote: "... down  through  the  centuries 
there  were  only two streams of manuscripts.  The  first  stream 
which  carried the Received Text in Hebrew and Greek, began  with 
the  Apostolic  churches, and reappearing at intervals  down  the 
Christian  Era among enlightened believers, was protected by  the 
wisdom  and  scholarship  of the pure  church  in  her  different 
phases;  by  such as the church at Pella in Palestine  where  the 
Christians fled, when in 70 A. D. the Romans destroyed Jerusalem; 
by   the  Syrian  Church  of  Antioch  which   produced   eminent 
scholarship; by the Italic Church in northern Italy; and also  at 
the same time by the Gallic Church in southern France and by  the 
Celtic  Church  in  Great Britain;  by  the  pre-Waldensian,  the 
Waldensian,  and  the churches of the  Reformation.   This  first 
stream appears, with very little change, in the Protestant Bibles 
of  many  languages, and in English, in that Bible known  as  the 
King  James  Version,  the one which has been in  use  for  three 
hundred years in the English speaking world.
     The  second stream is a small one of a very few MSS.   These 
last manuscripts are represented: (a) In Greek:--The Vatican MS., 
or  Codex B, in the library at Rome; and the Sinaitic,  or  Codex 
Aleph,  its  brother (in the Russian Museum in  Moscow).  (b)  In 
Latin:--The Vulgate or Latin Bible of Jerome.  (c) In  English:--
The  Jesuit Bible of 1582, which later with vast changes is  seen 
in  the Douay, or Catholic Bible. (d) In English again:--In  many 
modern  Bibles  which  introduce  practically  all  the  Catholic 
readings  of  the  Latin  Vulgate  which  were  rejected  by  the 
Protestants of the Reformation; among these, prominently, are the 
Revised Versions."--pp. 12, 13.
     But  let  us see what the Waldenses believed,  according  to 
their own historian, Jean Leger. Wilkinson, page 32, says:  "This 
noble  scholar of Waldensian blood was the apostle of his  people 
in  the terrible massacres of 1655, and labored intelligently  to 
preserve  their ancient records.  His book, the "General  History 
of   the  Evangelical  Churches  of  the  Piedmontese   Valleys," 
published in French in 1669, and called "scarce" in 1825, is  the 
prized  object of scholarly searchers.  It is my good fortune  to 
have  that  very book before me.  Leger, when he  calls  (Robert) 
Olivetan's French Bible of 1535 "entire and pure," says:  
          "I say 'pure' because all the ancient        exemplars, 
which  formerly were found among the       Papists, were full  of 
falsifications,  which  caused       Beza to say in his  book  on 
Illustrious  Men, in the       chapter on the Vaudois,  that  one 
must confess it   was by means of the Vaudois of the Valleys that   
France today has the Bible in her own language.   This godly man, 
Olivetan,  in the preface of his   Bible, recognizes with  thanks 
to God, that since   the time of the apostles, or their immediate   
successors,  the  torch of the gospel has been  lit    among  the 
Vaudois (or the dwellers in the Valleys   of the Alps, two  terms 
which mean the same), and   has never since been extinguished." -
-Leger,   General History of the Vaudois Churches, p. 165.

     Wilkinson also shows (pp. 42-43) that Erasmus recognized two 
parallel streams of Bibles:


Apostles (Original)            Apostates (Corrupted 

Received Text (Greek)          Sinaiticus and Vaticanus 
                                 Bible (Greek)                              

Waldensian Bible (Italic)      Vulgate (Latin).
                                 Church of Rome's Bible.

Erasmus (Received Text         Vaticanus (Greek).

Luther's Bible, Dutch,         French, Spanish, and
  French, Italian, etc.,         Italian (from Vulgate).
  (from Received Text).   

Tyndale (English) 1535         Rheims (English) from
  (from Received Text)           Vulgate (Jesuit Bible
                                 of 1582).

King James, 1611               Oxford Movement.
  (from Received Text)           Westcott & Hort (B and 
                                 Aleph).  American
                                 Revised 1901.

     This  should  be sufficient to persuade the  reader  not  to 
regard  these two streams of Bibles as equally pure or  good.  We 
believe  that translations arising from the corrupted texts  have 
been  largely  responsible for departures from many of  the  most 
essential  doctrines  of  the  Christian  faith,    e.  g.,   the 
creation, plenary inspiration and preservation of the scriptures, 
the   divinity  and  virgin  birth  of  Jesus  Christ,  and   the 
resurrection from the dead.     
     The  English  and  Welsh Baptists, having  arisen  from  the 
Anabaptists,   who  were  descendants  of  the  Waldenses,   were 
supporters  of  translations made from the textus  receptus.  The 
same  may  be said of the early Baptists in America. We  find  no 
evidence  that Wickliffe's translation ever gained much favor  or 
support from them.  Wickliffe's English translation was made from 
the Latin Vulgate, he being ignorant of Greek and Hebrew.
     The "Great Reformation" which followed over a century  after 
Wickliffe's  death  did  not make the Catholic  Bible  the  "true 
Bible,"  any  more  than it made the Catholic  Church  the  "true 
church."   As  shown  above, the  Protestant  Reformers  and  the 
Waldenses  all  refused to use the Catholic  manuscripts  (either 
Vulgate or Vatican). 
     We  do  not claim that the King James Version  is  the  only 
translation  that  can be called the inspired word  of  God,  but 
rather  that the Received Text is the only underlying  basis  for 
any past, present or future New Testament translation that should 
be  so  regarded  by  Christian  people.  Translations  from  the 
Received  Text have been made in most of the major  languages  of 


From Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, 1930, pp. 31-42
by Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Ph. D.

The Bible of the Waldenses Brought from Judea

     "To show that the messengers of God who carried  manuscripts 
from the churches of Judea to the churches of northern Italy  and 
on, brought to the forerunners of the Waldenses a Bible different 
from the Bible of Roman Catholicism, I quote the following:
     "The  method which Allix has pursued, in his History of  the 
Churches  of  Piedmont,  is to show that  in  the  ecclesiastical 
history  of  every  century, from the fourth  century,  which  he 
considers   a  period  early  enough  for  the   enquirer   after 
apostolical  purity  of  doctrine, there are  clear  proofs  that 
doctrines,  unlike  those  which the  Romish  Church  holds,  and 
conformable  to  the  belief  of  the  Waldensian  and   Reformed 
Churches,  were maintained by theologians of the north  of  Italy 
down  to the period, when the Waldenses first came  into  notice.  
Consequently the opinions of the Waldenses were not new to Europe 
in  the  eleventh  or twelfth centuries,  and  there  is  nothing 
improbable in the tradition, that the Subalpine Church persevered 
in  its  integrity  in an uninterrupted  course  from  the  first 
preaching  of  the gospel in the valleys."  -  Gilly,  Waldensian 
Researches, pp. 118, 119.
     There are many earlier historians who agree with this  view. 
(Allix,  Leger, Gilly, Comba, Nolan).  It is held that  the  pre-
Waldensian  Christians  of  northern Italy  could  not  have  had 
doctrines  purer  than  Rome unless their Bible  was  purer  than 
Rome's; that is, was not of Rome's falsified manuscripts. (Comba, 
p. 188.)
     The  Waldenses  of northern Italy were  foremost  among  the 
primitive Christians of Europe in their resistance to the Papacy.  
They not only sustained the weight of Rome's oppression but  they 
were  successful  in  retaining  the torch  of  truth  until  the 
Reformation  took  it from their hands and held it aloft  to  the 
world.   Veritably  they  fulfilled the  prophecy  of  Revelation 
concerning  the church which fled into the wilderness  where  she 
hath  a  place  prepared of God.  Revelations 12:  6,  14.   They 
rejected the mysterious doctrines, the hierarchal priesthood  and 
the worldly titles of Rome, while they clung to the simplicity of 
the Bible.
     The  agents  of  the  Papacy  have  done  their  utmost   to 
calumniate their character, to destroy the records of their noble 
past,  and  to  leave  no trace of  the  cruel  persecution  they 
underwent.   They  went  even farther - they made  use  of  words 
written  against ancient heresies to strike out the name  of  the 
heretics  and fill the blank space by inserting the name  of  the 
Waldenses.   Just as if, in a book written to record the  lawless 
deeds  of  some  bandit, like Jesse James,  his  name  should  be 
stricken  out and the name of Abraham Lincoln  substituted.   The 
Jesuit  Gretser  in a book written against the  heretics  of  the 
twelfth  and thirteenth centuries, put the name Waldenses at  the 
point where he struck out the name of these heretics. (Gilly,  p. 
8.)   Nevertheless, we greet with joy the history of their  great 
scholars who were ever a match for Rome.
     In  the  fourth  century,  Helvidius,  a  great  scholar  of 
northern  Italy, accused Jerome, whom the Pope had  empowered  to 
form  a Bible in Latin for Catholicism, with using corrupt  Greek 
manuscripts.  (Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6, p. 338.)   How  could 
Helvidius have accused Jerome of employing corrupt Greek MSS.  if 
Helvidius had not had the pure Greek manuscripts?  And so learned 
and  so powerful in writing and teaching was Jovinian, the  pupil 
of  Helvidius,  that  it demanded three  of  Rome's  most  famous 
fathers  - Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose - to unite in  opposing 
Jovinian's  influence.  Even then, it needed the condemnation  of 
the  Pope  and  the banishment of the Emperor  to  prevail.   But 
Jovinian's followers lived on and made the way easier for Luther.
     History  does  not afford a record of cruelty  greater  than 
that  manifested by Rome toward the Waldenses.  It is  impossible 
to  write fully the inspiring history of this persecuted  people, 
whose  origin  goes back to apostolic days and whose  history  is 
ornamented   with  stories  of  gripping  interest.    Rome   has 
obliterated  the records.  Dr. DeSanctis, many years  a  Catholic 
official  at Rome, some time official Censor of  the  Inquisition 
and   later  a  convert  to  Protestantism,  thus   reports   the 
conversation  of a Waldensian scholar as he points out to  others 
the ruins of Palatine Hill, Rome:
     "'See,'  said  the  Waldensian,  'a  beautiful  monument  of 
ecclesiastical antiquity.  These rough materials are the ruins of 
the two great Palatine libraries, one Greek and the other  Latin, 
where  the precious manuscripts of our ancestors were  collected, 
and  which  Pope  Gregory  I, called  the  Great,  caused  to  be 
burned.'"  (DeSanctis, Popery, Puseyism, Jesuitism, p. 53.)
     The destruction of Waldensian records beginning about 600 A. 
D.  by  Gregory I, was carried through with thoroughness  by  the 
secret agents of the Papacy.
     "It is a singular thing," says Gilly, "that the  destruction 
or  rapine,  which  has been so fatal  to  Waldensian  documents, 
should have pursued them even to the place of security, to  which 
all,  that  remained,  were consigned by Morland,  in  1658,  the 
library  of  the University of Cambridge.  The  most  ancient  of 
these  relics  were ticketed in seven packets,  distinguished  by 
letters  of the alphabet, from A to G.  The whole of  these  were 
missing when I made inquiry for them in 1823." (Gilly, Waldensian 
Researches, p. 80.)

Ancient Documents of the Waldenses

     There are modern writers who attempt to fix the beginning of 
the  Waldenses from Peter Waldo, who began his work  about  1175.  
This  is  a  mistake.  The historical name  of  this  people,  as 
properly  derived from the valleys where they lived, is  Vaudois.  
Their  enemies,  however, ever sought to date their  origin  from 
Waldo.  Waldo was an agent, evidently raised up of God to  combat 
the   errors  of  Rome.   Gilly,  who  made  extensive   research 
concerning  the Waldenses, pictures Waldo in his study  at  Lyon, 
France,  with associates, a committee, "like the  translators  of 
our own Authorized Version."  (Comba, Waldenses of Italy, p. 169, 
note  596.)   Nevertheless  the  history  of  the  Waldenses,  or 
Vaudois, begins centuries before the days of Waldo.
     There remains to us in the ancient Waldensian language, "The 
Noble Lesson," (La Nobla Leycon), written about the year 1100  A. 
D.,  which assigns the first opposition of the Waldenses  to  the 
Church  of  Rome  to  the days of  Constantine  the  Great,  when 
Sylvester  was  Pope.  This may be gathered  from  the  following 
     "All  the  Popes,  which have been  from  Sylvester  to  the 
present  time." (Que tuit li papa, que foron de Silvestre en  tro 
en aquest.) (Gilly, Excursions, Appendix 2, p. 10.)

     Thus when Christianity, emerging from the long  persecutions 
of  pagan  Rome,  was raised to imperial  favor  by  the  Emperor 
Constantine,  the  Italic Church in northern Italy  -  later  the 
Waldenses - is seen standing in opposition to papal Rome.   Their 
Bible  was  of  the family of the renowned Itala.   It  was  that 
translation  into Latin which represents the Received Text.   Its 
very  name  "Itala"  is derived from  the  Italic  district,  the 
regions  of the Vaudois.  Of the purity and reliability  of  this 
version, Augustine, speaking of different Latin Bibles (about 400 
A.D.) says:
     "Now among translations themselves the Italian (Itala) is to 
be  preferred  to the others, for it keeps closer  to  the  words 
without prejudice to clearness of expression." (Nicene and  Post-
Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 542.)
     The old Waldensian liturgy which they used in their services 
down  through the centuries contained "texts of Scripture of  the 
ancient  Version  called  the  Italick."  (Allix,   Churches   of 
Piedmont, 1690, p. 37.)
     The  Reformers  held that the Waldensian Church  was  formed 
about 120 A. D., from which date on, they passed down from father 
to son the teachings they received from the apostles.  The  Latin 
Bible,  the Italic, was translated from the Greek not later  than 
157  A.  D.  (Scrivener's Introduction, Vol. 2, p.  43.)  We  are 
indebted  to  Beza,  the renowned associate of  Calvin,  for  the 
statement  that the Italic Church dates from 120 A. D.  From  the 
illustrious group of scholars which gathered around Beza, 1590 A. 
D., we may understand how the Received Text was the bond of union 
between  great  historic churches.  As the sixteenth  century  is 
closing,  we see in the beautiful Swiss city of Geneva, Beza,  an 
outstanding  champion of Protestantism, the scholar Cyril  Lucar, 
later  to  become  the head of the  Greek  Catholic  Church,  and 
Diodati,  also  a  foremost  scholar.   As  Beza  astonishes  and 
confounds  the world by restoring manuscripts of that  Greek  New 
Testament from which the King James is translated, Diodati  takes 
the  same and translates into Italian a new and  famous  edition, 
adopted  and circulated by the Waldenses.  (McClintock  &  Strong 
Encycl.,  Art. "Waldenses.") Leger, the Waldensian  historian  of 
his  people,  studied under Diodati at Geneva.   He  returned  as 
pastor  to  the Waldenses and led them in their flight  from  the 
terrible  massacre of 1655. (Gilly, Researches, pp. 79,  80.)  He 
prized  as  his  choicest treasure the Diodati  Bible,  the  only 
worldly possession he was able to preserve.  Cyril Lucar hastened 
to  Alexandria  where  Codex A, the  Alexandrian  Manuscript,  is 
lying,  and laid down his life to introduce the  Reformation  and 
the Reformers' pure light regarding the books of the Bible.
     At the same time another group of scholars, bitterly hostile 
to  the first group, were gathered at Rheims, France.  There  the 
Jesuits,  assisted by Rome and backed by all the power of  Spain, 
brought  forth  an English translation of the  Vulgate.   In  its 
preface  they  expressly  declared  that  the  Vulgate  had  been 
translated  in  1300 into Italian and in 1400 into  French,  "the 
sooner  to  shake out of the deceived people's hands,  the  false 
heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses."  This  proves 
that  Waldensian Versions existed in 1300 and 1400.  It  was  the 
Vulgate, Rome's corrupt Scriptures against the Received Text--the 
New  Testament  of  the apostles, of the Waldenses,  and  of  the 
     That Rome in early days corrupted the manuscripts while  the 
Italic Church handed them down in their apostolic purity,  Allix, 
the  renowned  scholar, testifies.  He reports the  following  as 
Italic articles of faith:  "They receive only, saith he, what  is 
written  in the Old and New Testament.  They say, that the  Popes 
of Rome, and other priests, have depraved the Scriptures by their 
doctrines  and glosses." (Allix, Churches of Piedmont,  pp.  288, 
     It  is  recognized that the Itala was  translated  from  the 
Received  Text (Syrian, Hort calls it); that the Vulgate  is  the 
Itala  with the readings of the Received Text removed.   (Kenyon, 
Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, pp. 169, 170.)

Waldensian Bible Translations

     Four Bibles produced under Waldensian influence touched  the 
history  of Calvin: namely, a Greek, a Waldensian  vernacular,  a 
French, and an Italian.  Calvin himself was led to his great work 
by  Olivetan, a Waldensian.  Thus was the Reformation brought  to 
Calvin,  that brilliant student of the Paris University.   Farel, 
also  a Waldensian, besought him to come to Geneva and open up  a 
work  there.   Calvin  felt  that  he  should  labor  in   Paris.  
According  to  Leger,  Calvin recognized a  relationship  to  the 
Calvins  of  the  valley of St. Martin,  one  of  the  Waldensian 
Valleys.  (Leger, History of the Vaudois., p. 167.)
     Finally, persecution at Paris and the solicitation of  Farel 
caused  Calvin to settle at Geneva, where, with Beza, he  brought 
out  an  edition of the Textus Receptus, the one the  author  now 
uses  in  his college class rooms, as edited  by  Scrivener.   Of 
Beza,  Dr.  Edgar  says that he "astonished  and  confounded  the 
world"  with  the  Greek manuscripts he  unearthed.   This  later 
edition of the Received Text is in reality a Greek New  Testament 
brought  out  under Waldensian  influence.   Unquestionably,  the 
leaders  of  the Reformation, German, French, and  English,  were 
convinced  that the Received Text was the genuine New  Testament, 
not  only by its own irresistible history and internal  evidence, 
but  also  because  it matched with the Received  Text  which  in 
Waldensian form came down from the days of the apostles.
     The other three Bibles of Waldensian connection were due  to 
three  men who were at Geneva with Calvin, or when he died,  with 
Beza,  his successor, namely, Olivetan, Leger, and Diodati.   How 
readily the two streams of descent of the Received Text,  through 
the  Greek  East  and  the  Waldensian  West,  ran  together,  is 
illustrated by the meeting of the Olivetan Bible and the Received 
Text.   Olivetan,  one  of the most illustrious  pastors  of  the 
Waldensian  Valleys,  a relative of Calvin, according  to  Leger, 
(Leger,  History of the Vaudois, p. 167) and a splendid  student, 
translated  the New Testament into French.  Leger bore  testimony 
that the Olivetan Bible, which accorded with the Textus Receptus, 
was unlike the manuscripts of the Papists, because they were full 
of  falsification.  Later, Calvin edited a second edition of  the 
Olivetan  Bible.   The Olivetan in turn became the basis  of  the 
Geneva Bible in English, which was the leading version in England 
in 1611 when the King James appeared.
     Diodati,  who  succeeded Beza in the chair  of  Theology  at 
Geneva, translated the Received Text into Italian.  This  version 
was  adopted by the Waldenses, although there was in use at  that 
time a Waldensian Bible in their own peculiar language.  This  we 
know  because Sir Samuel Morland, under the protection of  Oliver 
Cromwell, received from Leger the Waldensian New Testament  which 
now  lies  in  the  Cambridge  University  Library.   After   the 
devastating massacre of the Waldenses in 1655, Leger felt that he 
should  collect and give into the hands of Sir Samuel Morland  as 
many  pieces  of  the  ancient  Waldensian  literature  as   were 
     It  is interesting to trace back the Waldensian Bible  which 
Luther  had  before  him when he translated  the  New  Testament.  
Luther used the Tepl Bible, named from Tepl, Bohemia.  This  Tepl 
manuscript represented a translation of the Waldensian Bible into 
the  German which was spoken before the days of the  Reformation.  
(Comba,   Waldenses  of  Italy,  p.  191.)  Of  this   remarkable 
manuscript, Comba says:
     "When the manuscript of Tepl appeared, the attention of  the 
learned  was  aroused  by  the fact that  the  text  it  presents 
corresponds  word for word with that of the first three  editions 
of  the  ancient German Bible.  Then Louis  Keller,  an  original 
writer,  with the decided opinions of a layman and versed in  the 
history  of  the  sects of the Middle  Ages,  declared  the  Tepl 
manuscript to be Waldensian.  Another writer, Hermann Haupt,  who 
belongs  to  the  old  Catholic  party,  supported  his   opinion 
vigorously." (Comba, p. 190.)
     From  Comba  we also learn that the Tepl manuscript  has  an 
origin different from the version adopted by the Church of  Rome; 
that it seems to agree rather with the Latin versions anterior to 
Jerome, the author of the Vulgate; and that Luther followed it in 
his  translation, which is probably the reason why  the  Catholic 
church  reproved Luther for following the Waldenses.  (Comba,  p. 
192.)   Another  peculiarity is its small size,  which  seems  to 
single  it out as one of those little books which the  Waldensian 
evangelists  carried with them hidden under their  rough  cloaks. 
(Comba, p. 191, Note 679.)  We have, therefore, an indication  of 
how  much the Reformation under Luther as well as Luther's  Bible 
owed to the Waldenses.
     Waldensian  influence, both from the Waldensian  Bibles  and 
from  Waldensian  relationships,  entered  into  the  King  James 
translation  of 1611.  Referring to the King  James  translators, 
one author speaks thus of a Waldensian Bible they used:
     "It  is known that among modern versions they consulted  was 
an Italian, and though no name is mentioned, there cannot be room 
for  doubt  that it was the elegant translation made  with  great 
ability  from the original Scriptures by Giovanni Diodati,  which 
had  only  recently (1607) appeared at  Geneva."   (Dr.  Benjamin 
Warfield,  Princeton Univ., Collection of Opinions  and  Reviews, 
Vol. 2, p. 99.)
     It  is  therefore evident that the translators of  1611  had 
before   them  four  Bibles  which  had  come  under   Waldensian 
influences:  the Diodati in Italian, the Olivetan in French,  the 
Lutheran  in German, and the Genevan in English.  We  have  every 
reason to believe that they had access to at least six Waldensian 
Bibles written in the old Waldensian vernacular.
     Dr.  Nolan, who had already acquired fame for his Greek  and 
Latin  scholarship, and researches into Egyptian chronology,  and 
was  a lecturer of note, spent twenty-eight years to  trace  back 
the  Received  Text to its apostolic origin.  He  was  powerfully 
impressed  to  examine the history of the Waldensian  Bible.   He 
felt certain that researches in this direction would  demonstrate 
that  the  Italic New Testament, or the New  Testament  of  those 
primitive  Christians of northern Italy whose lineal  descendants 
the  Waldenses were, would turn out to be the Received Text.   He 
     "The author perceived, without any labor of inquiry, that it 
derived  its  name from that diocese, which has been  termed  the 
Italick,  as  contradistinguished  from the  Roman.   This  is  a 
supposition,  which receives a sufficient confirmation  from  the 
fact  that  the  principal  copies  of  that  version  have  been 
preserved  in that diocese, the metropolitan church of which  was 
situated in Milan.  The circumstance is at present mentioned,  as 
the  author  thence  formed  a hope, that  some  remains  of  the 
primitive   Italick   version  might  be  found  in   the   early 
translations   made  by  the  Waldenses,  who  were  the   lineal 
descendants  of the Italick Church; and who have  asserted  their 
independence  against the usurpations of the Church of Rome,  and 
have ever enjoyed the free use of the Scriptures.  In the  search 
to  which these considerations have led the author,  his  fondest 
expectations have been fully realized.  It has furnished him with 
abundant  proof  on that point to which his inquiry  was  chiefly 
directed;  as it has supplied him with the unequivocal  testimony 
of  a truly apostolical branch of the primitive church, that  the 
celebrated  text  of the heavenly witnesses was  adopted  in  the 
version  which prevailed in the Latin Church, previously  to  the 
introduction  of  the  modern  Vulgate."  (Dr.  Frederick  Nolan, 
Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, pp. xvii, xviii.)

How the Bible Adopted by Constantine Was Set Aside

     Where  did this Vaudois Church amid the rugged peaks of  the 
Alps secure these uncorrupted manuscripts?  In the silent watches 
of the night, along the lonely paths of Asia Minor where  robbers 
and   wild  beasts  lurked,  might  have  been  seen  the   noble 
missionaries  carrying manuscripts, and verifying documents  from 
the  churches  in Judea to encourage  their  struggling  brethren 
under the iron heel of the Papacy.  The sacrificing labors of the 
apostle  Paul  were bearing fruit.  His wise plan to  anchor  the 
Gentile churches of Europe to the churches of Judea, provided the 
channel  of communication which defeated continually and  finally 
the  bewildering  pressure  of the Papacy.  Or,  as  the  learned 
Scrivener has beautifully put it:
     "Wide  as  is the region which separates  Syria  from  Gaul, 
there   must   have  been  in  very  early  times   some   remote 
communication  by  which  the stream  of  Eastern  testimony,  or 
tradition,  like  another  Alpheus,  rose  up  again  with  fresh 
strength   to  irrigate  the  regions  of  the   distant   West." 
(Scrivener's Introduction, Vol. 2, pp. 299, 300.)
     We have it now revealed how Constantine's Hexapla Bible  was 
successfully  met.  A powerful chain of churches, few  in  number 
compared   with  the  manifold  congregations  of   an   apostate 
Christianity,  but enriched with the eternal conviction of  truth 
and with able scholars, stretched from Palestine to Scotland.  If 
Rome  in  her own land was unable to beat down the  testimony  of 
apostolic  Scriptures, how could she hope, in the Greek  speaking 
world of the distant and hostile East, to maintain the  supremacy 
of  her Greek Bible?  The Scriptures of the apostle John and  his 
associates,  the  traditional text, the Textus Receptus,  if  you 
please,  arose  from  the place of humiliation forced  on  it  by 
Origen's  Bible  in  the  hands of  Constantine  and  became  the 
Received Text of Greek Christianity.  And when the Greek East for 
one  thousand years was completely shut off from the Latin  West, 
the  noble Waldenses in northern Italy still possessed  in  Latin 
the Received Text.
     To  Christians preserving apostolic Christianity, the  world 
owes the Bible.  It is not true, as the Roman Church claims, that 
she  gave  the Bible to the world.  What she gave was  an  impure 
text,  a text with thousands of verses so changed as to make  way 
for  her unscriptural doctrines.  While upon those who  possessed 
the veritable Word of God, she poured out through long  centuries 
her  stream  of cruel persecution. 

Copyright c. 2001-2021. All rights reserved. The Primitive Baptist Library.

This page maintained by: Robert Webb - (bwebb9@juno.com)