An introduction to two books on the text and translation of scripture:
“If I truly believe in God, then God is more real to me than anything else I know, more real even than my faith in Him. For if anything else is more real to me than God Himself, then I am not believing but doubting. I am real, my experiences are real, my faith is real, but God is more real. Otherwise I am not believing but doubting. I cast myself therefore on that which is most real, namely, God Himself. I take God and Jesus Christ His Son as the starting point of all my thinking.”
– Edward F. Hills
Edward Hills’ definition of the difference between believing and doubting informed his life and was the foundation of his life’s work in defense of the Scriptures as found in the Textus Receptus and the King James Version of the Bible.
Edward F. Hills (1912-1981) was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After graduating from high school he attended Yale University where he excelled in the Latin classics and was a Phi Beta Kappa graduating summa cum laude in 1938.
From Yale he entered Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia where he studied under the famous J. Grescham Machen and other well known scholars.
Under the tutelage of Dr. N. B. Stonehouse, he was introduced to the new Greek New Testament of Westcott and Hort, Greek rival of the old Textus Receptus. Hills became exceedingly troubled concerning the significant differences between the two Greek texts. “Had not God inspired His Word? Had not God promised to preserve it? How could this newly edited 19th century text displace the one used for centuries by the Church?”
In this same class, however, he also learned that among scholars in England there had been one loud, dissenting voice to this newly praised text, John William Burgon, an Oxford scholar who had opposed Westcott and Hort in the revision committee.
Unfamiliar with this name, Hills wondered, “Who was this Burgon and what was his vociferous objection?” He determined to study this issue himself.
After he obtained the Th.B. Degree from Westminster, he studied at Columbia Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned the Th.M. From there, he studied at the University of Chicago for two years and transferred to Harvard University where he earned his Th.D. in New Testament text criticism.
His years of intense research have resulted in two significant books: The King James Version Defended and Believing Bible Study. Edward F. Hills has been called the Father of the 20th century renewal of the Textus Receptus.
THE KING JAMES VERSION DEFENDED
“The Scriptures are perfect, inasmuch as they were uttered by the Word of God and His Spirit.” So wrote Irenaeus (MPG, vol. 7, col. 805, col. 844) in the second century, and such has always been the attitude of all branches of the Christian Church toward the New Testament.
Since the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the New Testament has in all ages stimulated the copying of these sacred books, it is evident that this doctrine is important for the history of the New Testament, no matter whether it be a true doctrine or only a belief of the Christian Church. But what if it be a true doctrine? What if the original New Testament manuscripts actually were inspired of God? If the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the New Testament is a true doctrine, then New Testament textual criticism is different from the textual criticism of ordinary books.
If the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament Scriptures is a true doctrine, the doctrine of the providential preservation of the Scriptures must also be a true doctrine. It must be that down through the centuries God has exercised a special, providential control over the copying of the Scriptures and the preservation and use of the copies, so that trustworthy representatives of the original text have been available to God’s people in every age.
God must have done this, for if He gave the Scriptures to His Church by inspiration as the perfect and final revelation of His will, then it is obvious that He would not allow this revelation to disappear or undergo any alteration of its fundamental character.
Although the doctrine of providential preservation of the Old and New Testament Scriptures has sometimes been misused, nevertheless, it also has always been held, either implicitly or explicitly, by all branches of the Christian Church as a necessary consequence of the divine inspiration of these Scriptures. (Hills, The King James Version Defended, Introduction. CRP, 1984)
Hills goes on to describe and differentiate two methods of New Testament textual criticism that being the “consistently Christian method,” as opposed to the “naturalistic method.”
Hills’ work is so important because of all of the modern day defenders of the Byzantine text Hills is the only trained text critic to defend the text since the days and the textual scholarship of Scrivener, Burgon, and Hoskier. Hills scholarship clearly entitles him to a hearing. Further, Dr. Hills is never far from where the debate (for Christians) must ultimately begin – with biblical theology.
BELIEVING BIBLE STUDY
When we study the Bible prayerfully and believingly, we are guided by the logic of faith into a true conception of the history of the Bible text.
Because the Gospel is true and necessary for the salvation of souls, the Bible which contains the Gospel was infallibly inspired and has been preserved down through the ages by God’s special providence, not secretly in holes and caves and on forgotten library shelves but publicly in the usage of God’s Church.
Hence, the text found in the vast majority of the New Testament manuscripts is the true text because this is the text that has been used by God’s Church.
If the providential preservation of Scriptures is not essential for the transmission of the biblical text, then it must be non-existent and not a fact. If providential preservation is not a fact, why should the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures be regarded as a fact? Why would God infallibly inspire a book and then decline to preserve it providentially? For example, why would God infallibly inspire the Gospel of Mark and then permit the ending (describing the resurrection appearance of Christ) to be lost?
We believe that the New Testament was the infallibly inspired Word of God. Hence, it has been preserved down through the ages by God’s special providence. Moreover, this special providence did not cease with the invention of printing.
Therefore, the true New Testament text is found today in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts, in the Textus Receptus, in the King James Version and other faithful translations of the Textus Receptus. And, therefore this same serving providence is operating today through the agency of all those true believers, however humble, who retain and defend the King James Version.
Have the text and footnotes offered in today’s versions ever disturbed you? Have doubts and questions troubled you? Believing Bible Study will direct you back to the faith once delivered to the saints found in God’s providentially preserved Word, the venerable King James Version.
It is our prayer that these books will be a blessing to the readers as they seek to know God as He has revealed Himself to us through the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ and through His Holy Word, The Bible.
Written by: The Edward F. Hills Family