Chris Pinto and His Ignorant, Kooky Conspiracy

I have come across many attempts by individuals who undermine the confidence in God’s Word, especially as it is reflected in translations that are not the King James Version Bible. Almost every time these people cannot read Greek or have not studied the history of textual transmission of the Bible. I have studies in both, and have studied New Testament textual criticism from Harvard Divinity from one of the leading scholars in this field. So my comments below are not uninformed.

Now if someone wants to believe that a 17th century Anglican version of the Bible (i.e. the KJV) is the best translation there is, and if they want to even believe that the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts behind it are superior, that is their prerogative. But for many, including Chris Pinto, that is not enough. They feel the need to undermine the confidence in modern translations.

Chris Pinto is peddling his error-contorted, emotionally-riddled “Da Vinci Code” like-documentary on Codex Sinaiticus entitled Tares Among the Wheat. Codex Sinaiticus is an important fourth century manuscript containing much of the Bible. But Pinto’s documentary claims Constantine Simonides forged the document (Simonides was soon exposed as a fraud), and Pinto promotes Sinaiticus as some “Roman Catholic” conspiracy (he uses incredible leaps of logic).

I want to respond to one documentary lie in Pinto’s blurb. He writes:

Tischendorf said he found the work in a rubbish basket at a Greek Orthodox monastery in Egypt.

It was not found in a “rubbish basket.” Just the contrary, it was prized and protected by its owner. To sell his DVDs, Pinto must take advantage of those ignorant of the historical facts.

Here is a refutation to Pinto’s claim from an excerpt in James White’s book The King James Only Controversy:

The single greatest example of an uncial codex written on vellum is Codex Sinaiticus, which today is almost always abbreviated with the single symbol of the Hebrew letter “aleph,” written like this: a. This great codex contains the vast majority of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, in Greek. The story of how it was found(1) is evidence of God’s providence. Constantin von Tischendorf embarked on a journey to the Middle East in 1844 searching for biblical manuscripts. While visiting the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, he noted some scraps of parchment in a basket that was due to be used to stoke the fires in the oven of the monastery. Upon looking at the scraps he discovered that they contained part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This was exactly what he was looking for, and so he asked if he could take the scraps to his room for examination, warning the monks that they should not be burning such items. His obvious excitement worried the monks, who became less than cooperative in providing further information about manuscripts at the monastery. Years passed by. Tischendorf attempted to find more manuscripts at the monastery in 1853, but to no avail. Six years later he visited yet once again, and this time on the very evening before he was to leave he presented a copy of the Septuagint (which he had published) to the steward. Upon looking at Tischendorf’s gift, the steward remarked that he, too, had a copy of the Septuagint. From the closet in his cell he produced a manuscript, wrapped in a red cloth. The monk had no idea of the treasure he held in his hands, for this was none other than Codex Sinaiticus, which at that time was no less than 1,500 years old! Tischendorf, having learned his lesson years earlier, hid his amazement and asked to examine the work. He spent all night poring over it, and attempted to purchase it in the morning, but was refused. The story of how the codex was eventually obtained is long, involved, and controversial. It resides today in the British Museum.

Codex Sinaiticus (a) is vilified more than any other manuscript by KJV Only advocates,(2) and for obvious reasons. So impressed were the scholars of the day like Tischendorf, Westcott, and Hort that claims were made for a (and another great codex, Codex Vaticanus,(3) abbreviated simply as “B”) that later study has shown to have been at best unbalanced. Westcott and Hort used a and B to produce their New Testament, a work that displaced the text used by the KJV, later known as the Textus Receptus, in scholarly studies. Because of this, even moderate KJV Only advocates will accuse modern textual critics and translators of “worshiping” a and B, though this is hardly a reasonable charge. (4) Codex Sinaiticus is not nearly as bad as its enemies would say, nor as good as Tischendorf or others wished. It is not infallible, nor is it demonic. It is instead a great treasure, for a while the oldest manuscript known, and for all time a tremendously valuable asset to our knowledge of the New Testament text. Those who say it is “corrupt” normally mean it is different at places than the traditional text that underlies the KJV. Others accuse it of being so full of errors as to be almost useless. There are indeed many corrections in the text of a, but such is hardly surprising. A handwritten text that is used for 1,500 years is going to collect a few corrections along the way! Moreover, there is a note in the Old Testament portion that even indicates that at some point in the past there had been an effort to correct the manuscript to a different standard, which, of course, would produce a fair amount of alteration. Imagine taking an NASB and trying to make it read like an NKJV!

(1) For a fuller rendition of the story, see, Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration 2nd ed. (Oxford: 1968), pp. 42-45.

(2) Note the words of William Grady in Final Authority (Grady Publications: 1993), p. 100:

“Within two years of England’s national acceptance of this depraved Catholic manuscript, the city of London was in smoldering ruins. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17).

(3) Vaticanus is attacked on the basis of its being found in the Vatican library. Of course, the fact that the vast majority of “Byzantine” manuscripts were copied by Roman Catholic monks in the centuries prior to the Reformation seems to be overlooked. Note the conspiracy-laden words of Grady (ibid., p. 101):

“Strange as it sounds, the most heralded manuscript evidence for rejecting the King James Bible has yet to be handled by serious Bible-believing scholars! People like Beale, and Geisler and Nix have chosen a ‘slide presentation’ put together by the most treacherous international gangsters in history over the blood-washed text of the Protestant Reformation!”

(4) See for example D.A. Waite, Defending the King James Bible (The Bible For Today: 1993), p. 61, “They just about worship that manuscript.” This was just after alleging, inaccurately, that a was about to be burned (one will note that the steward at St. Catherine’s kept the manuscript in his cell, wrapped in a red cloth, hardly the way in which one treats trash). When Dr. Waite debated me in August of 1994, he dropped the “just about” and directly asserted that Westcott and Hort worshiped Sinaiticus.

It is unfortunate that Pinto did not use his documentary skills for some other worthy task. He will have to give an account to God one day for undermining the confidence of God’s people in his preserved Word in modern translations—and he does this with a video camera, not informed scholarship.

Chris Pinto possesses no credibility, which should cast doubt on his integrity in his other projects.

For further reading on the KJV Only issue, I have written a few articles for James White: here, here, and here.



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