Where the Single Version Men Lead Us

Kent Brandenburg has rushed to the aid of Chris Pinto in an attempt to revive his reputation as a cutting-edge researcher. Regaling us with his expertise on the transmission of the biblical text, Kent began writing a series of articles excising an autopsy upon what he calls “the multiple version men.” That is Brandenburg newspeak for “Christians who are not KJV only and defend modern translations.” If you are wondering, that is like really, really bad.

The first one in the series was republished over at Noise of Textus Receptus, so obviously, Chris Pinto thinks he has written an opinion piece so astonishing and profound, his detractors must sit up and take notice.

I really don’t have time, nor really the interest, to engage all of Kent’s posts. I anticipate that Kent, or one of his surrogates, will stop by here and lecture me in the comments about what a sad deficiency on my part for not laboring through his series point by point, because they believe I can learn something; but honestly, I want to move on to other important things. With that said, let me interact with the first point he raises. It is a clear demonstration of the facile, slipshod responses masquerading as a rebuttal Kent provides.

He writes,

1.  They leave men with the wrong source of scriptural bibliology.

The textual critic, multiple versionist has never started with the Bible.  He didn’t go to history to find the historical, biblical position on the preservation of scripture.  He didn’t and doesn’t develop a biblical position before he starts in with his textual criticism.  He is not a man of faith, in other words, because faith always starts with what God says.  You know you will be wrong when you don’t start with the Bible to come to your position.  You will read zero development of theology as a basis of the multiple version point of view. Nothing.

The last issue of the Biblical Evangelist republished an article by Douglas Kutilek on Psalm 12, concerning the doctrine of preservation.  A very, very long article was intended to establish that Psalm 12 teaches the preservation of the poor and needy and not the Words of God.  So here is Kutilek attempting to “liberate” the Bible from teaching on the perfect preservation of scripture, and what does that leave us with? We are to depend on a handful of scientific gurus to reveal what God’s Words are. Kutilek buttresses his point on gender discordance, and in so doing, is dishonest in not revealing the purposeful gender discordance that is found in pronouns that refer to the Word of God.  There are multiple clear examples of this in the Bible, and, therefore, taught in Hebrew grammar and syntax.  I and many others have communicated to Kutilek on this, but then he would have to admit that error, so he continues to propagate the misrepresentation.  He says that “them” in Psalm 12:6-7 must refer back to poor and needy based upon gender agreement.  Again, that’s not true.  I’m not saying that the passage doesn’t teach the preservation of the poor of needy, but that the plain reading, and why many Christians have read it this way, is the preservation of God’s Words.

Kent’s words here are so full of inaccuracy and misstatement it is difficult not to call them intentionally dishonest. He seriously thinks any God-fearing Christian who has engaged in textual criticism and believes in the orthodoxy of modern versions really does not believe the Bible. That person is to be identified with the “multiple version men” (MVM) and thus does not have faith in God.

So if you are someone like myself, or one who is even more knowledgeable in the subject like James White, and you question the Simonides theory of Chris Pinto and reject the TR/KJVO worldview of the “single version men” (SVM), well then, you have no faith in God when it comes to the text of our Bible. Seriously. Who exactly argues like this?

As Kent moves along in his comment, he continues to pile on the dishonesty in taking to task Doug Kutilek’s article on Psalm 12:6,7.

Let me break it down,

The SVM will claim that God preserves every single word He inspired. I happen to believe that as a MVM, but how I see history telling us God did that preservation differs radically from the revisionism I read from the SVM like Kent and Pinto. One of the passages SVM (aka KJVOs) will cite for their view of preservation is Psalm 12:6,7 which states,

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

It is claimed by the SVM/KJVOs that this is a direct promise by God Himself that His Word will be kept and preserved from the generation when God began revealing Himself, through to when David originally wrote Psalm 12, and into eternity. In other words, this is a promise that the entire Bible will forever be preserved and not a word will be lost.  The truly devout KJVOs argue that the concept of “purified seven times” is a prophetic promise directly related to the various English translations that preceded the publication of the King James in 1611. I talk about that a bit in my series of posts answering the apologetics of KJV onlyists.

Contrary to what Kent asserts for the Pinto fans, Doug Kutilek has written a devastating article against their apologetic talking-point, showing that Psalm 12:6,7 does not, in any fashion, support the idea of an eternal preservation of the biblical text as is claimed by the SVM. In fact, it is a rather detailed, exegetically driven study that proves from the Hebrew grammar itself that the promise to “preserve them” is not the words of God, as in biblical manuscripts and texts, but relates back to the “poor and needy” mentioned in 12:5. God preserves “them,” i.e., the poor and needy, from the attacks of the wicked who seek their spiritual destruction. If anything, Psalm 12 is a Psalm giving God praise for the eternal security He provides His people.

The dishonesty of his words is only compounded when Kent writes that, “We are to depend on a handful of scientific gurus to reveal what God’s Words are….I and many others have communicated to Kutilek on this, but then he would have to admit that error, so he continues to propagate the misrepresentation.” Oh really? Provide me the names of the “many others” who have communicated this to Kutilek. Because as his article documents, the vast majority of Hebrew commentators, both ancient and recent, side with Kutilek, not the SVM on who the “them” truly are.

Take for example, John Gill, who writes on Psalm 12:7, “Ver. 7, “Thou Shall Keep them, O Lord...Not the words before mentioned, as Aben Ezra explains, for the affix is masculine and not feminine…but the sense is, that God will keep the poor and needy, and such as he sets in safety, as Kimchi rightly observes: they are not their own keepers, but God is the keeper of them….”

A fuller list of scholars is provided in Kutilek’s article, but the list includes John Calvin, Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke and host of other excellent men, many of who, like these men, wrote way before there were any so-called multiple versions. If I take Kent’s words here, I have to conclude that those guys are not full of faith, started with textual criticism instead of the Bible, and are a group of scientific gurus. Or could it be they are God-fearing, Bible-loving, faith-filled Christians who just so happen to disagree – based upon the grammar of the Hebrew – with Kent and all the SVM.

Adding to the genuine, biblical understanding of Psalm 12:7 that Kutilek explains is the word “generation.” Rather than it being a way of speaking about a fixed point in time and the promise of total preservation of every one of God’s Words during the transmission of the biblical text, the word “generation” speaks to a condition or class of men. In this case, the wicked who attempt to bring down the poor and needy. They are referenced in 12:8 as those who “prowl on every side.” The point being is that David is contrasting a righteous generation with a wicked one.

One Psalm over in Psalm 14:5 the “generation of the righteous” is contrasted with those who have no fear of God, or what would be the “generation of the wicked.” The NT consistently uses “generation” in this fashion and Philippians 2:15,16 even mirrors what is being stated in Psalm 12:7,8 when Paul writes,

that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

So where do the Single Version Men lead us? Are they leading us to the purity of God’s Word? Are they cultivating a solid commitment and faithful affirmation to the true Word of God? (Which of course is only found in the KJV or any other TR based translation).

Or are they teaching us horrendous Bible study skills that strip the biblical text of its true meaning? Are the in truth passing along a deceitful reading of history and facts about the transmission of the Bible?  All in a desperate attempt to defend their single version perspective that leaves all Christians without a genuine understanding of what God truly said and how He brought us His Word.

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H.P. Blavatsky for the Defense

blavastkyWhen I began critiquing Chris Pinto’s absurd “Codex Sinaiticus” conspiracy theory that he presents in his documentary, Tares Among the Wheat, one of my chief criticisms I had was his misappropriation of historical sources.  This academic abuse primarily manifested itself as selective reading and the cherry-picking of specific citations Pinto finds favorable to his argument.  He then twists those citations, calls it “reporting the facts of history,” and uses them in support of his theory.  I document a handful of examples in previous posts.

That is a typical ploy found in KJVO apologetics. It doesn’t matter if the overall work of the author cited disagrees with the premise of the argument being presented. It doesn’t matter if the citation used even represents exactly the point of what the author was really stating. In fact, the citations may not even honestly portray the entire truth of a matter under discussion.  In many cases the material quoted can be so divested of the context that an entire fantasy world will be created.

Pinto employs that sort of quote mining throughout his documentary primarily to make Constantine Tischendorf come across as a nefarious, Jesuit change-agent and Simonides as a brilliant textual critic who became a sad victim of the Catholic machine. Pinto and his sycophantic fan club truly believe he is doing credible, unbiased, academic research.  It doesn’t matter what the context is saying where the quote is found, he considers it “relevant” to his thesis as a positive witness.

One key instance I pointed out previously is how Pinto continually repeats a citation from J.A. Farrer’s 1907 book, Literary Forgeries, in which Farrer writes how the controversy surrounding the Simonides affair and Codex Sinaiticus remains one of the great mysterious of recent history.  Pinto seriously thinks that quote provides him heavy support in favor of his argument.

However, if anyone were to go online and read Farrer’s book, that is not how he concluded his study. Farrer instead concludes that Simonides’s character was one of a constant liar. Pinto ignores that conclusion. He never seriously interacts with it or the overall context of Farrer’s review of the Simonides controversy. Instead, he distracts his audience by dismissing that withering conclusion as unimportant. 

At any rate, as Pinto attempts to do postmortem damage control on the debate he lost to James White in early December, he continues to flail about for any support he can find that will help him salvage his reputation as a legitimate documentarian. The most recent is his citation of a personal letter written by the occultist, Helena Blavatsky.

That’s right.

Christian J. Pinto has descended into Gail Riplinger territory by invoking the Theosophy Society founder and Victorian era crack-pot, H.P. Blavatsky, in his defense of his cockamamie Simonides/Codex Sinaiticus conspiracy.

On his December 21st, 2013 Noise of Thunder radio program, around the 41 min, 30 sec. mark, Pinto reports how he stumbled across a piece of information from an out of the ordinary source that sheds an “interesting” light upon the whole Tischendorf/Simonides controversy. He goes on to quote from a letter Blavatsky wrote to one V. de Zhelihovsky in June of 1877. The portion Pinto cites is found on pg. 321 of her collected letters and it states,

We have no manuscript of the Old Testament earlier than the tenth century. The Bodleian Codex is considered to be the oldest. But who can vouch for its authenticity? Tischendorf is the authority for it and has convinced the whole of Europe that he had discovered on Mount Sinai the so-called Sinaiticus. And now two other scholars (one of them a Theosophists of ours), who have spent several years in Palestine and have been on Mount Sinai, are about to prove that such a Codex never existed in the library. They have conducted investigations for two years and searched all the hidden places, with the help of a monk who has lived there for the last sixty years and who knew Tischendorf personally. And this monk stated under oath that he had known for many years every manuscript and every book, but has never heard of the one spoken of. The monk, of course, will be tucked away; and as to Tischendorf, he simply deceived the Russian government by a counterfeit.”  

Now to the undiscerning reader, Blavatsky seems to be supporting the Simonides’s controversy and by extension, Pinto’s documentary. She suggests strongly that Tischendorf is dishonest; that he has pulled a con of his own upon the entire European academic world by passing off Sinaiticus as the oldest complete NT manuscript,  while in truth it’s a modern day forgery.

Moreover, she says there are a couple of scholars, one of them a Theosophist, who have spent two years investigating all the hidden places in Palestine and on Mt. Sinai with the aide of a monk, who has also stated under oath that he knew every manuscript that was ever at St. Catherine’s and Tischendorf’s prize was never one of them. Thus, she concludes her comment by saying he has deceived not only the entire European world, but also the Russian government.

Let’s see if the Chris Pinto principle of selective reading holds up to scrutiny.  

First, and this may be a bit of a stretch, but I am fairly confident that Blavatsky is a complete ignoramus when it comes to ancient, biblical documents.  There may be some extremely rare exceptions, but pretty much every crank atheist and biblical skeptic who writes vicious attacks against the Scriptures are complete morons in the areas of biblical and textual studies.  At least that has been my experience.

Moreover, like all those atheists and skeptics attacking the Bible, Blavatsky assumes a priori the stupidity of her opponents and her intellectual superiority. The entire European academic world is so stupid that a simpleton like Tischendorf can trick them into believing Sinaiticus is from the 4th century. Of course, I would expect someone such as H.P. Blavatsky with her Hindenburg-sized ego, to dismiss every textual critic on the European continent as nothing but dullards.

Further note how she mentions two other “scholars,” one even a theosophist, who had allegedly spent years in Palestine and had scoured Mt. Sinai and were on the verge of exposing how the codex was never at St. Catherine’s. Keep in mind this is 1877, nearly a dozen or more years AFTER Simonides claimed he was the author of the codex in the pages of The Guardian. She never names those two scholarly individuals, or the monk who allegedly took an oath. Who were they? Does she bring this up in later letters? What did they present? Were their findings into the matters of Codex Sinaiticus ever published? Seeing that even Chris Pinto isn’t even aware of what ever it was they allegedly found, I’ll venture a guess that ole Helena was lying. Or maybe the Jesuits got to them and shut’em up.

Those problems would be enough for any researcher to dismiss Blavatsky out of hand and to take her private comments with a massive grain of salt. Why any credible scholar would want to latch onto the ramblings of a 19th century mystic as a reliable source for anything, let alone textual criticism, would be bizarre. But we are dealing with KJVO sympathizer and conspiracy theorist, Chris Pinto here.

Anyone who gets online and reads any of her available works will quickly come to realize that Blavatsky was not only a new age occultist, but she hated Christianity and often ranted against God and the Bible (and the Jews) throughout her works. Thus citing from her goofy speculations about the background to Codex Sinaiticus would be equivalent to citing from something Deepak Chopra wrote saying the entire NT was originally written in Aramaic instead of Greek and the Illuminati has covered it up.

Yet it is understandable Pinto would use her, in spite of him acknowledging her new age occultism during his radio program, because he has a propensity for the selective reading and cherry-picking and so badly needs to establish the credibility of his 3 hour documentary. But instead of helping him, her letter is detrimental. That is because the context of her entire letter is nothing but a long, bitter screed against the infallibility of the Bible, the Christian faith and the Jews.

If the reader would merely start at the beginning and muscle his or her way through her paranoid revisionism, she goes on and on about how the Jews corrupted the Bible and no one can have any confidence about the historicity of Scripture. In fact, in the paragraph immediately following her comments about Tischendorf that is conveniently overlooked by Pinto, she writes how the books of Moses had been lost for centuries and then in 2 Kings 23 they suddenly appear. Then when the temple is destroyed, they disappear again, and then she mocks the ability of Ezra to reproduce them in 40 days after the captivity, and even then she asserts how that story is mere tradition and not historical fact.

When you read her letter in the context of what Blavatsky is truly writing, she was going after Tischendorf and Codex Sinaiticus because she wanted to find anything that would play into her agenda to discredit the Bible. In fact, she goes after Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort a lot in her written correspondence and books.  Her criticisms of them actually contradict the more wacked out KJV onlyists like Gail Riplinger who believes she wrote favorably of them and their views of textual criticism.  In point of fact, she hated and despised the work they were doing because it in essence affirmed the veracity of the biblical text against her many new age speculations regarding spiritualism and world religions. Hence anything she writes on the text of Scripture should be dismissed out of hand.

So rather than this letter of Blavatsky being a “very interesting” insight to the truth of the Simonides affair, it should be proof positive why we shouldn’t look to Chris Pinto as a reliable source on anything related to the history of the Bible and textual criticism.

Why the White/Pinto Debate Matters

tinhatJames White and Chris Pinto recently debated the topic of whether or not Codex Sinaiticus is a modern forgery. White argued that it wasn’t, while Pinto argued that it was, thus defending his thesis put forth in his documentary on the subject. See my review of his film here.

The debate was wildly lopsided in favor of White because he is a seasoned champion as a public debater. Never has there been such an imbalance between opponents since Mike Tyson’s bout with Peter McNeeley.   Additionally, he has taught extensively on textual criticism and had a firm command of the subject matter under discussion; but most importantly, he defended the correct position.

Kudos, however, do have to be given to Pinto, who admitted from the start of his opening statement that he had never done such a debate before. Not only was he going into “hostile territory” as it were, because he has come under heavy criticism from a number of individuals including myself, but he also lacked the textual expertise that White brought to the table.

The full debate can be heard HERE, along with about 35 minutes of opening comments by White who responded to Pinto’s absurd post-debate commentary in which he claimed White brought nothing substantive to the debate.

Now, in the preceding discussions leading up to the debate, those who defended Pinto’s Codex Sinaiticus conspiracy theory painted it as just a secondary issue among Christians. Sort of like amillennialist disagreeing with premillennialist as to how we are to interpret Revelation 20.  In fact, in his opening statement, Pinto made the point to say the debate was an in-house disagreement between brothers in the Lord.

If we mean “secondary” in the sense that believing Pinto’s codex conspiracy is the same as teaching a false gospel, well of course I’d agree with him.  But declaring the subject matter of this debate a “secondary” issue does not mean it is unimportant, nor does it absolve Pinto from his bad history lessons he presents in his film. He has to be held accountable.

The reason why this debate is an important one is that it challenges a prevailing stream of consciousness regrettably found among many believers these days.  Pinto, and similar individuals like him, have taught numerous, undiscerning Christians to live spiritual lives that are, for lack of a better term, conspiratorially driven.

They are being told that church history has been largely shaped by sinister, dark forces that lurk in the shadows. Whether they be the Illuminati, Jesuits, or whatever, those forces ceaselessly toil to disrupt God’s purposes and the lives of Christians everywhere.  If Christians are just only made aware of those forces and the evil they attempt to perpetrate and learn to identify and avoid them, why the church in America would be in much better spiritual health.

So the Christians who have come under the spell of that kind of spiritualized, tin-foil hat paranoia, gather to themselves literature and DVDs, like the stuff Pinto puts out, and believe if they know the intricacies of all the Masonic symbols on the dollar bill or on the monuments in DC, that they have risen to a level of sanctification that transcends your smarter than average Baptist deacon.

But not only does this nonsense inform Christians with a woefully errant understanding of historical fact, it draws people away from the important things of Christ to stirring up in their hearts trivial obsessions that honestly lead to no good at all. More importantly, it smites God’s character. Because conspiracy mongers unwittingly portray our Sovereign God as helpless in the direction of bad things influencing the Church. The Jesuits, for instance in Pinto’s movies, have been given almost omnipotent status. They control everything and there is nothing God can do about it.  Practically every God-fearing, truth-loving, soul-winning, modern-version reading Christian has been duped by their trickery. Only those faithful TR/KJV onlyists hold the keys to truth. If more people would only read Gail Riplinger’s stuff.

What White did was to challenge the prevailing tin-foil hat theology that has infiltrated the minds of many Christians, exposing it as being bankrupt. How I pray more folks will have ears to hear and eyes to see in these matters.

Tares Among the Wheat – A Review

taresI can say right now at the outset of this review that it will be negative. I imagine many will conclude after reading it that it is nothing more than an ungracious and cruel rant rather than a serious and honest evaluation of the product. So be it if that is the case; but as a Christian, I have a duty to the truth.

Anyone who follows my blog knows I have had some rather blunt words for Chris Pinto and his Codex Sinaiticus conspiracy that he has been feeding to the undiscerning Christian community. You can read my initial post about him and Brannon Howse HERE.

I came in contact with Pinto back during the summer after I had emailed Brannon Howse directly to inquire as to why he allowed a KJVO conspiracy theorist into his immediate circle of ministry partners. He forwarded along my email to Pinto and the three of us began to interact a bit.

Pinto was rather adamant that I had no justification to label him a KJVO proponent or challenge his research if I hadn’t seen his documentary. Seeing that I had no real desire to spend hard-earned and much needed funds upon a DVD that I knew without doubt would be outright historical revisionism and amount to nothing more than KJVO propaganda, I stated something like if I he sent me a copy I would watch it. To his credit, Pinto sent me not only his documentary, but another audio version of the same material entitled, Codex Sinaiticus: The Oldest Bible or Modern Hoax? 

I carved out the time: Over two days early on a Saturday and Sunday morning before the family got up. I muscled my way through all 170 exhausting minutes of Pinto’s Tares Among the Wheat.

Let that sink in a moment.

A 2 hour and 50 minute documentary on how the Jesuits manufactured the Codex Sinaiticus legend. To put that in perspective, that is approximately 45 minutes longer than The Avengers and just 9 minutes shy of the Fellowship of the Ring, the non-extended version.

Having now watched the documentary, I can confidently say that Chris Pinto has spent a considerable amount of money and time making for us the first ever, live-action Jack Chick Crusader Comic.

I have dealt at some length with the particulars of his conspiracy in previous posts, so I won’t retread old ground here. However, to summarize his belief, Pinto claims in his documentary that Constantine Von Tischendorf, rather than identifying the oldest known codex of the NT at St. Catherine’s monastery, instead passed off to the unwitting scholarly community a 19th century work by the hand of one talented paleographer, Constantine Simonides.

Tischendorf, working in collusion with the Jesuit order, was able to silence Simonides’ public protests that his work had been in essence stolen. Thus, with Simonides gone, the plan by the Jesuits to undermine the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura was able to go forward, clearing the way for the influence of higher textual criticism and the publication of modern Bible versions based upon the codex that Tischendorf allegedly “found.”

A 2 hour, 50 minute documentary that brings us to that conclusion.

Pinto breaks his documentary up into nine key chapters. One would think the chapters would get quickly to the point, but each one lingers on and on beyond what was really necessary for him to establish what he wanted to say. Honestly, this documentary could be easily trimmed by a good hour and a half or more and still present his case.

He begins by explaining the devotion early Christians had for the Bible and then moves into describing how the Catholics sought to destroy Bible-believing Christians because they refused to submit to papal authority. He then turns to talking about the Reformation and the Reformer’s return to the authority of Scripture.  And then he begins moving to the big build up of his film by introducing the shady nature of the Jesuit order and their intention to destroy Protestants and the solas of the Reformation, particularly sola scriptura.

From about the second half of the DVD (by this point almost an hour and half into the film), Pinto lays out his Sinaiticus conspiracy by retelling how Tischendorf allegedly “discovered” the codex at St. Catherine’s monastery at Mt. Sinai. He then introduces Simonides and tells of the ensuing “controversy” that he generated among the academic community by publishing articles in The Guardian newspaper claiming Tischendorf had mistakenly identified his personal work as an “ancient” biblical text. Then, we are told how Simonides was silenced by the Jesuits because they controlled both the universities AND the news media in Britain at the time (how convenient!). Simonides was painted as a hoaxer and fraud and returned to Turkey in shame only to die a few years later of leprosy as another tragic victim of the Jesuits.

The film is cobbled together with bizarre speculations, dishonest, cherry-picked citations, and a total reworking of the history surrounding the finding of the codex. All of it played out before the viewer between dramatizations and the commentary of alleged, biblical “experts” all punctuated by a soundtrack of spooky music.

Without belaboring my criticisms of this work, let me provide a couple of highlights so as to illustrate what I mean.

First. The documentary format provides Pinto the ability to dramatize key characters and sequences in his convoluted conspiracy theory. That allows him the opportunity to stage how he wants his viewers to perceive the principal individuals central to his thesis.

Tischendorf is portrayed as angry and brooding. He is seen in one scene glad-handing and chortling with the pope and Vatican officials, and then in another scene bitterly muttering to himself as he plots against his academic enemies. Simonides, on the other hand, is portrayed as a handsome, swashbuckling scholar, like some heroic Indiana Jones character, who sadly met his early death going up against the sinister scheming of Tischendorf and the massive Jesuit machine.

The dramatizations are so absurd that they would be comical if it weren’t for the fact that what Pinto is trying to convey to his audience wasn’t so profoundly in error.  Not only is it dishonest toward the memory of Tischendorf, but viewers will go away from the DVD with a warped view of the real facts and thus remain prejudiced against considering the true history of our Scriptures.

Second. Even worse than the fantasy recreations Pinto presents is the deceitful information contained in the film that he attempts to pass off as “scholarship.”

As I noted in my previous critique (see link at the beginning), Pinto claims in the promotional description of his film that he interviewed leading “experts” in the field of biblical studies. The problem is that those “leading experts” are neither “leading” nor “experts,” but are all KJV onlyists or men favorable to his revisionist theory of textual criticism.

Apparently, no dissenting “experts” were even considered who would certainly disagree with his view. In fact, Pinto, who is also the narrator of his own film, is also an “expert.” So throughout a large portion of his documentary Pinto is essentially interviewing himself as an “expert” to his own outlandish conspiracy.

Such a lopsided evaluation of one of the most important finds in modern Christian history would be enough to raise serious doubts about the credibility of the information presented.  However, it is the intentional mishandling of the historical record that truly demonstrates the fraudulent nature of this work.

I could hit on many key examples, and in point of fact, in my previous article (again, linked above), I wrote about him cherry-picking out-of-context citations in order to exaggerate the person and abilities of Simonides to more than what he really was: a con-artist trying to make a fast buck selling fake manuscripts. Let me highlight another example of Pinto’s deceitful use of historical citations.

In the 5th chapter on the DVD, Pinto makes the wild assertion that it was Jesuits who developed the “scholarly” discipline of higher criticism, the textual criticism that really took root in Germany and treats the biblical text in a rational fashion that concludes the Bible is filled with error.

He begins the chapter by outlining the history of the Received Text as promoted by KJVO apologists and interviews a couple of his “experts,” even showing the official Erasmus library. He then attempts to string together the Jesuit connection of higher criticism by first introducing his viewers to Johann Semler, the 17th century textual scholar who is often considered the father of German rationalism. Semler taught and discipled Johann Griesbach, both men who, according to Pinto, held to unorthodox views of Scripture. Pinto doesn’t explain what that unorthodoxy was.

From that point, the reenactments begin, and you hear Pinto say — with an ominous soundtrack playing under the narration —  that Germany became the concentration of Jesuit activity, most importantly, the introduction of higher criticism — cut to a scene of his Tischendorf character shuffling through a stack of papers, hint, hint.

He doesn’t really provide any genuine documentation to back up that claim, but plays an old recording of Irish minister and politician, Ian Paisley saying the Jesuits were the developers of higher criticism in Germany. No offense to the good minister, but I’d like a little more than just his word on it.

Then Pinto provides the “background” of textual criticism that was developed in the 1600s by a French Catholic, Richard Simon, who is called the “father of higher criticism.” Of course, according to Pinto, Simon was trained as a Jesuit, though he provides no real documentation for that charge except to say he was “affiliated” with particular individuals and institutions that were allegedly Jesuit.  He also doesn’t tell the viewers that a number of other scholars before Simon independently developed ideas similar to his and that secular Jewish philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, is also considered a major influence on higher critical thinking, even being called “the father of higher criticism” in some circles. But an influential Jewish philosopher doesn’t play well into the Jesuit theory portion of Pinto’s film. 

He goes on to explain how it was the plan of the Jesuits to do whatever it takes to destroy the Protestant beliefs about the Scriptures. When he states that, he provides as an example Isaac De La Peyrere, a French theologian who wrote a book entitled Men Before Adam. The book is Peyrere’s theory that pre-Adamic men existed long before God created Adam and Eve.

The Jesuits, according to Pinto, used Peyrere’s book as a means to undermine the literal interpretation of Scripture taught by the Calvinistic Reformers.  A citation then pops up on screen taken from two authors, Jim Bennett and Scott Mandelbrote, who wrote a “Catalogue of Biblical Criticism” and stated how Peyrere, “deployed the hypothesis of men before Adam in order to attack the Calvinist method of interpreting the scripture according to the literal sense…”

Now, for the person who is all into Jesuit conspiracies and is emotionally manipulated by scary horn sounds and dark shadowy images in a film, I can see how he or she can be easily persuaded to believe what Pinto is saying here.  I’m guessing he is banking on the hope no one will actually go to the computer and double-check his claim, because if anyone were to do so, just a quick internet search will reveal that Pinto is only telling his viewers a very small portion of who Peyrere really was. He wants people to get the impression he was a Catholic agent who wrote his work for the sole purpose of attacking Protestant Calvinists, but that is not the case at all.

It took me all of 45 seconds to type in the name of the authors and their work to find the citation Pinto had to have been quoting.  If a person reads the entire online article about Peyrere, he will learn that he was born in a Protestant family and quite possibly had a Jewish ancestry. Moreover, he held to an odd sort of Jewish Messianism and  developed his ideas about pre-Adamic men as a Protestant not as a Catholic, with the intention of evangelizing the Jewish community for Christ.

Most friends told him he shouldn’t publish his book, but he was finally persuaded to do so and after he did, he was charged with teaching heresy and arrested. He later converted to Catholicism and repudiated his views. When he was asked to explain his views, he claimed that, “…This method [the literal interpretation of Scripture] led him into his heresy, and that belief in pre-Adamites was indeed consistent with a Calvinist approach to the Bible.”

I hope my readers are tracking along with me.

Instead of this work being a product of Jesuits who wanted to undermine the Protestant view of Scripture by teaching a false interpretation of Genesis and pre-Adamic men, what we really learn from the full article is that Peyrere renounced his former views he developed as a Protestant and blamed Calvinism on his wrong interpretation of Genesis and the false doctrine of pre-Adamic men. That is not what we take away from Pinto’s film.

I would also add that the article goes on to point out that Calvinists were aware of Peyrere’s work and worried about its influence among Christians. But it was not because they feared an attack by Jesuits on sola scriptura. The church at that time was under assault by a number of new sects, like the Quakers, who threatened the authority of Scripture [As an example, listen to Steve Lawson’s second message from the Strange Fire conference that addresses the Quakers]. The Reformers believed Peyrere’s book would embolden their wacky views of personal revelation and prophecies.

However, rather than his book having a weakening effect among Reformed Calvinists and upon their doctrine of Scripture that Pinto suggests in his documentary, according to Bennett and Mandelbrote, they urged a greater concentration upon what Scripture genuinely teaches and a renewed advocacy of a close reading of the Bible. In other words, it strengthened the commitment Reformed Calvinists already had for the Word of God. That is basically the polar opposite of what Pinto says the Jesuits used Peyrere’s book for.

Now, with all of that in mind, folks are sure to ask, “why are you wasting three hours on a weekend to watch such a lame video and then a lot of time over the course of a few days to write up a review on it”?

Pinto is something of an obscure documentarian who makes strange films on conspiracy theories. See for instance his two films playing on the UFOTV.COM youtube channel [UFO TV people!], the Secrets of the Dollar Bill and Riddles in Stone, in which he lays out the influence Free Masons and the Illuminati have had upon the history of the United States.  I am left to wonder which secret society has the more power: the Illuminati or the Jesuits. Do they work together, or are they competitors? More to the point, why on earth should a Bible-believing, Gospel-loving Christian care about Masonic symbols on our dollar bills? How does knowing all the secret symbols in the dollar bill help a Christian in his ability to discern and grow in Christ? But I digress.

Someone who is driven by a conspiratorial world view isn’t taken seriously by most regenerated, sober-minded, Bible-believing Christians.  However, within the last few years, Pinto has gained more recognition by being numbered among Brannon Howse’s Worldview Weekend ministry partners. A conspiracy theorist is featured along with other reputable Christian men including John Whitcomb, pastor Mike Abendroth, Justin Peters, and Erwin Lutzer.  That association provides him some credibility that I don’t believe he deserves, nor is it one the Christian church at large needs.

For a ministry that promotes itself as teaching Christians discernment, only goes about sowing confusion by entertaining an individual whose ideas lack that discernment Christians should be taught to cultivate. Thus, my desire with this rather harsh review is to see believers warned against vain philosophies that are passed off as something valuable to our faith and to exhort the brethren to exercise great caution when the come across it.

George E. Merrill on the Simonides Affair

Chris Pinto has the bad habit of cherry picking his citations for his documentary, Tares Among the Wheat, in which he allegedly lays out the “true” history of Codex Sinaiticus. A clear example of his “cheery picking” is with the history he presents regarding Constantine Simonides, the Greek con artist who told everyone he was the real author of the codex.

Pinto boasts that he is reporting the facts in his documentary and is letting his audience decide, but in reality, he wants them to go away believing his tin-foil hat version of the events, that being, Codex Sinaiticus was a 19th century production that was used by the Jesuits to undermine the Protestant Reformation.

Proof of his dishonest reporting is clearly demonstrated in the fact that he presents a lopsided view of the so-called evidence. In one instance, he cites from George Merrill’s work, The Parchments of the Faith, available online here, where he tells of Tischendorf, the discoverer of the codex, meeting with the pope. Pinto notes a brief quote by Merrill of Tischendorf where he reports about one of the cardinals writing up some prose in his honor in Greek. Pinto puts a sinister spin on that incident to make it appear that Tischendorf was in league with the Vatican to plot out a destructive course for the Christian Protestants.

What Pinto doesn’t do with the exact same book by Merrill, is present his version of the Simonides affair, because Merrill shows how Simonides was a lying con artist. Such information is ruinous to Pinto’s Jesuit conspiracy. Of course, I am sure Pinto can find some instance where Merrill was in league with the Jesuits as well. Or perhaps he was just a regrettable victim of the Jesuit campaign of destruction against the character of Simonides.

Here’s Merrill’s account of Simonides. I like his last line where he says Simonides was said to have died in 1867 of leprosy, but was seen two years later in St. Petersburg under an assumed name. Pinto didn’t tell us about that little detail of Simonides’s life.

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Naturally the great value attached to these documents has stimulated the desire for gain latent in the human breast, and many persons unworthy to be engaged in such a work have devoted themselves to the business of securing such documents and offering them for sale. Nor have all such efforts been of an honorable character. Frauds have been attempted, which have come to be of recognized value themselves as going far to establish our confidence in the infallible judgment of the great librarians and scholars upon whom the attempt to deceive has been made, for no such effort has yet been successful in any important instance.

No bolder attempts in this direction have been made than those which rendered the name of Constantine Simonides infamous, especially in connection with the Sinaitic manuscript. This man, in 1856, sought to palm off upon the Academy of Berlin a manuscript purporting to be the “History of Egypt,” by Uranios, son of Anaximenes. As a work of the kalligraphic art it was perfect; but the careful study of the subject matter revealed its false character. The work was bought for twenty-five hundred thalers, however, before the deceit was discovered, and a few leaves of the very important document, the “Shepherd of Hermas,” were also purchased.

Then came a message from Professor Lykurgos, of Athens, that probably both the manuscripts were spurious, and Professor Tischendorf at once gave them critical examination and pronounced them false.

Simonides next appeared at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, and produced two or three genuine manuscripts of no very great value, and belonging to the tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. He then unrolled with much apparent anxiety a few fragments of vellum, which bore an uncial text of most venerable appearance. The librarian carefully inspected the crumbling leaves of vellum, then smelt of them, and gave them back with the single remarked that they dated from the middle of the nineteenth century. The baffled Simonides gathered up his wares with many protestations, and departed, going straight to the railway station, whence he sped to the house of a well-known country gentlemen in Worcestershire, where he disposed of the whole lot at a satisfactory price.

The most extraordinary performance of this Simonides was doubtless prompted by a spirit of revenge. It has been said that Tischendorf had been the means of detecting the fraud perpetrated in Berlin, and some other incidents had also brought him into collision with Simonides. No sooner had Tischendorf published his earliest facsimiles of the newly discovered “Codex Sinaiticus,” in 1860, than Simonides declared that Tischendorf himself was at last deceived; that he, Simonides, had written the whole document!

He appealed to his wonderful skill as a kalligrapher and said that while he was still a youth he had been employed by his uncle, Benedict, head of the monastery of Panteleemou on Mount Athos, to make in manuscript from a printed Moscow Bible, a copy of the whole Scriptures, which might be worthy of presentation to the Russian Emperor Nicholas, in acknowledgment of benefits conferred upon the monastery. He had gone through the Old and the New Testaments, the Epistle of Barnabas, and a part of the “Shepherd of Hermas,” when his uncle died, his materials failed, and the plan to add the whole of the Apostolic Fathers had to be relinquished.

The volume was presented by him later to Constantine, formerly Patriarch of Constantinople and Archbishop of Sinai, who had recognized the favor by giving him twenty-five thousand piastres, or not far from one thousand two hundred dollars. The book had been given by the patriarch to the Convent of St. Catharine, where Simonides had seen it in 1844, and again in 1852, and where Tischendorf discovered it in 1859.

It was a marvelous story, requiring the most colossal impudence, and yet so cunningly planned, so boldly supported, with the manual skill of its author so well known, that for a time it found credit in some quarters. But its refutation was easy. The monks at Sinai, including the librarian who was in charge at the time covered by the story, gave testimony that they had never seen Simonides, and that the book had been catalogued from the earliest times. According to Simonides himself, he could not have been more than fifteen years old in 1839, when he began the task, and it was shown that to have finished it at the time designated he must have written at least twenty thousand large and separate uncial letters every day, which was simply incredible. Moreover, the very mistakes of the codex show that it must have been copied from another manuscript, and not from a printed Bible, as for instance where omitted words are in several cases just enough to fill up a line in an old papyrus document, showing that the copyist had a roll or book like his own lying before him. It is not necessary to pursue the subject farther, except to say that the manuscript was easily and entirely vindicated from such imputations. Simonides was reported to have perished of leprosy in 1867; but two years later he was seen in St. Petersburg, where he was still active under an assumed name. [The Parchments of the Faith, 131-135]

Slandering Tischendorf

tischendorfChris Pinto has become his own unique version of David Barton. Just as David Barton re-imagines the person and life of Thomas Jefferson to create an historical individual that is largely fiction, so too Chris Pinto re-imagines the history behind Codex Sinaiticus to create a story that never happened.

One of the key, foundational elements to Chris Pinto’s documentary, Tares Among the Wheat, the film in which he re-imagines the history of Codex Sinaiticus, is the slandering of Constantine Von Tischendorf, the discoverer of the codex.  Pinto presents him as a scumbag Jesuit sympathizer who was looking for a way to help subvert the Protestant Reformation and the doctrine of sola scriptura and he found it in the manuscript of Sinaiticus.

Pinto’s revised history goes something like this:

When Tischendorf discovered Codex Sinaiticus, he recognized how important it would be to the Jesuit plot to promote their philosophy of “higher criticism.”  He proclaimed that Sinaiticus was the earliest whole codex of the NT available to the Christian Church. Because it was the “oldest” it was also better than the TR, the Greek apparatus used to translate the popular Protestant translation, the KJV.  Tischendorf’s newly found “oldest” codex would be used by the Jesuits to supplant the TR to create new English translations that would weaken Reformed Protestant theology, especially that dreaded doctrine, sola scriptura, that the Catholics hated with all their passion.

The problem with the Jesuits and Tischendorf’s scheme, however, was that a document forger named Constantine Simonides came forward around the time Tischendorf was preparing to publish the codex and exposed to the world how he was the true author of Codex Sinaiticus and that Tischendorf had essentially stolen his work and misidentified it as a fourth century manuscript.  

In reality, Simonides explained how he wrote out the codex in 1840 as a young man in his late teens. The Jesuits, who controlled much of the press in England at the time, ridiculed Simonides’s claim to the point he was ran out of England and died a few years later. Thus, the plot to subvert the Bible of the Protestant Reformation was able to move along. 

Pinto’s documentary is just the newest attempt by King James advocates (even though Pinto denies being a KJV onlyist) to slander Tischendorf and make him a devilish apostate bent on destroying the Christian faith.

Anyone who has read the works of KJV apologists know the various authors spend at least one chapter, or a portion of a chapter, telling how Tischendorf found the codex in a waste basket preparing to be burned and how the manuscript has thousands upon thousands of corrections, nearly 30 per page, that allegedly promote false doctrines.  It also has additional books that heretics claimed were meant to be in the biblical canon and it is the source of much of Roman Catholic dogma like Mary worship and the veneration of saints. That is the standard KJVO view about Tischendorf and Codex Sinaiticus.

However, the real history is nothing of the sort and if anyone were to seriously investigate the matter he would be angered by the attempt of Pinto — and all KJV onlyists for that matter– to re-write the history of one of the most important discoveries in the history of the modern church.

Contrary to Pinto’s claim, Tischendorf was not a Jesuit sympathizer at all. In fact, he was something of the 19th century equivalent to a Christian, evangelical apologist.

He was becoming alarmed at the proliferation of radical scholarship that was spreading through European seminaries and into the Christian church.  Skeptic authors wrote similar things about the life of Jesus and the Scriptures then as they do now. The kind of stuff that is readily found on the internet at atheist websites. Those skeptics in his day were claiming that Jesus didn’t exist and that the Gospels were all mythical. Others wrote books attempting to debunk the Bible with the “latest and greatest” scholarship coming out of the schools of higher criticism.

James Bentley, who wrote the book, Secrets of Mount Sinai, says this about Tischendorf’s life work,

He was passionately determined to refute those who were destroying the faith of the Christian world. Many Christians desperately longed for such a refutation. In a pamphlet published in March 1864 Tischendorf wrote, ‘May my writing serve this end: to make you mistrust those novel theories upon the Gospels — or rather, against them — which would persuade you that the wonderful details which the Gospels give of our gracious Saviour are founded upon ignorance and deceit.’ [Bentley, 37]

Bentley goes on,

But the works he was attacking were also runaway best-sellers [just like they are today]. The latest attack on the historicity of the Christian Gospels had been published by a Frenchman in the previous year. Ernest Renan’s Life of Jesus scandalized the German scholar… Tischendorf was in part simply scornful of Renan’s ignorance of the geography of the Bible…But what he found appalling was Renan’s suggestion that the Lord’s miracles were based on deceit, deceit aided by Jesus’s astute friends. Far from being dead, Jesus’s friend Lazarus arranged to be wrapped in the winding sheets of a corpse and laid in a tomb….Jesus raises him, apparently from the dead, and later discovers the family deception…This for Tischendorf was the final scandal in a book he dubbed ‘nothing else than a caricature of history from beginning to end.’ [Bentley, 37, 38].

So here we have a Christian man, stirred to action to renounce such lies and blasphemies that were being hoisted onto the Christian world at the time in the name of “scholarship.”

Tischendorf believed the TR, from which the KJV had been translated, was an inadequate text because it was not based upon the “best” manuscripts of the NT.  He believed better manuscripts were waiting to be discovered and their discovery would only serve to refute the skeptics and critics who wrote those trashy novels about the life of Jesus.

The only thing he knew he had to do was find those best manuscripts of the NT.  But that cost time and money.  So he took it upon himself to acquire funding and the necessary means to scour the European libraries, monasteries, and even the Vatican, in order to locate the best manuscripts he could find to defend the NT.

His visit to the Vatican is important to note. Pinto mentions Tischendorf’s traveling to Rome and the Vatican in 1843 in order to have a mysterious meeting with pope Gregory XVI and his cardinals. The scene in his documentary is ridiculously played out with a fawning Tischendorf kissing the ring of the pope, laughing and chortling with the Vatican priests and cardinals, while toasting each other with glasses of wine.

But his purpose with visiting the Vatican was for the primary reason of viewing their collection of manuscripts for his apologetic work, not to plot the destruction of the Protestant Reformation.

The Vatican authorities were not at all accommodating to scholars, particularly Protestant ones, and just like other scholars who went to the Vatican library, Tischendorf ran into something of a wall with his efforts.  A number of other men attempted to view the collection but were denied. Tischendorf, according to George E. Merrill in his book The Parchments of the Faith (a book Pinto cites in his documentary to smear Tischendorf) had become well-known as a critic when he applied to view the Vatican collection in 1843. Merrill explains how Tischendorf even secured a number of letters of recommendation from such men as French Ambassador Count Latour Maunborg and Prince John of Saxony, as well as received a “very flattering note” from Archbishop Affre of Paris [Merrill, 176].

The note from the archbishop, according to Tischendorf, granted him a prolonged audience with the pope. It is that meeting that Pinto seizes upon to spin a bizarre conspiracy that Tischendorf’s visit had a sinister purpose attached to it. Pinto points out how one cardinal by the name of Messofanti wrote a poem in Greek for Tischendorf’s honor. Merrill, however, quotes Tischendorf’s retelling of that incident, and he merely brushes by it as if it were odd, which it probably was. It certainly isn’t a smoking gun sign of Tischendorf’s involvement with the Jesuit order as Pinto would have his viewers believe.

That meeting with the pope had the intended effect Tischendorf was looking for, because he was granted an examination of Codex Vaticanus, Yet, even after the pope had granted him permission, a Cardinal Mai, who had plans to publish his own edition of Vaticanius, blocked Tischendorf’s efforts and he was allowed to study the codex, but only for about 6 hours. Bentley writes that the whole situation “soured his later relationships with Roman Catholic scholars of the day,” [Bentley, 43].

So rather than being a nefarious, clandestine meeting between members of the Jesuit order plotting out how to destroy the Protestant Reformation, it was an attempt by an honest, biblical scholar who wanted to secure the best resources for his work as an apologist.

st catherinesTischendorf then heard about the possibility of manuscripts being housed in monasteries in Egypt and that is when he made his trip to St. Catherine’s in 1844.

On May 24th, he was visiting the monastery and saw in the middle of a large hall a wide basket full of old parchments. After examination, he saw that they were sheets of the OT in Greek, and he wrote that they “seemed to me to be one of the most ancient that I ever seen” [Tischendorf’s, When Were Our Gospels Written?, 24]. The librarian told him that the papers were mouldered by time and they had already burned two large heaps of them. He was only able to secure 43 sheets, because even though they were being used to start fires, the Catherine’s monks were just as guarded of their stuff as the Vatican was.

Tischendorf’s second return in 1853 to the monastery was unfruitful, but on his third visit in 1859, he took a walk with a young Athenian steward who invited him back to his room for some refreshment. The steward told Tischendorf that he had read the OT in Greek and then revealed to him a bulky parcel wrapped in a red cloth. When he unwrapped it, it contained not only the sheets Tischendorf saw in 1844 that were being used to light fires, it contained some 346 parchments from the same volume.

Through some diplomatic negotiations, Tischendorf was able to secure the codex for Czar Alexander II of Russia who had commissioned him to seek the manuscript. The manuscript remained in Russia until 1933 when the Marxists sold it to the British Museum.

A couple of points should be noted with the true version of the discovery. First, the monks were not burning the Sinaiticus when Tischendorf saw those parchments in the so-called “trash can” in 1844. They were probably manuscripts of the OT in Greek similar to what was found later in the actual Codex Sinaiticus. Secondly, the monks were not burning those parchments because they were proto-KJV onlyists who believed those manuscripts had been corrupted by heretics and were only fit to be burned as most KJVO apologists would have us believe. They were ignorant monks who more than likely didn’t recognize the value of those manuscripts. All they saw was a practical use for moldy old papers no one was really using: lighting fires to keep warm.

Chris Pinto’s retelling of those events as a Jesuit effort to create an alternative history of the Bible so as to supplant the doctrines of the Reformation is pure fantasy. It would be a comical parody if it weren’t for the fact his documentary is being promoted as the truth. It’s shameful  that a discernment ministry like Worldview Weekend, that is otherwise reliable with their information regarding other important areas, would push this nonsense off to an audience who probably doesn’t really know any better.

Determining the Antiquity of Ancient Manuscripts

I’ve been doing some study on Codex Sinaiticus and the claim that a document forger by the name of Constantine Simonidies produced the codex in 1840 as currently popularized by Chris Pinto in his documentary, Tares Among the Wheat.  The question modern readers may wonder about is how exactly can experts distinguish between genuine, ancient manuscripts and recent forgeries? This is particularly important as it relates to identifying Codex Sinaiticus as a 4th century manuscript rather than a 19th century production.  I came across an interesting paragraph found in a lengthy article addressing the whole Simonides affair in an old version of The Journal of Sacred Literature, available on line at Google books, that goes into some detail with answering that question.

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“We cannot turn from this topic without a word for the encouragement of those who are not skilled in old Biblical manuscripts. They might say, if the ‘Codex Sinaiticus’ is by any possibility a modern production, the same may be true of other manuscripts which pass for the most ancient. Our friends may be reassured: there are features in these most venerable copies of the Holy Scriptures which cannot be imitated. A skilful man, by long practice, and with a certain knowledge of chemistry, could imitate the characters and appearance of many manuscripts on paper, and of some on vellum. But there is a limit to these things, and detection is almost inevitable. The action of ink upon vellum is peculiar, slow, and gradual, and leads to results which can be measured by time. The action of light and air, and warmth, and moisture, are also remarkably uniform. The style of writing peculiar to certain periods is commonly definable. The arrangement of all the parts of a manuscript is also, when taken in connexion [sic] with other phenomena, a clue of great value. Indeed, palseography [sic] and textual criticism together, enable men not only to fix often the country, and more often the date of a manuscript, but even the class and age of that from which it was copied. A manuscript at Sinai would not in a few years suffer much from wear and tear, nor even from sheer neglect, and the veriest tyro in such matters would never be deluded into the belief that a venerable uncial from that monastery was written in our time by even so skilful a hand as that of Simonides. Our readers will not be tempted to cast aside the results of modern science on the ipse dixit of any man. In the case under consideration it would be the height of folly.”

Chris Pinto’s Disingenuous Response to His Critics

I want to offer a bit of a response to an interview Chris Pinto gave to Brannon Howse on September 16th in which he attempted to answer the critics of his documentary, Tares Among the Wheat. [The full length video can be viewed (Updated: “Could have been viewed”) on Youtube (Ironically posted by a KJVO guy, a position Pinto claims to reject)]. BTW, he did kindly send me a DVD of his documentary that I hope to write up a review about in the future.

If the mp3 of the interview goes behind the WVW pay wall before you can catch it, Pinto did write an article that outlines the basic talking points in response to another critical review of his documentary.

With that stated and for my purposes now, I want to primarily focus upon a few of the questions and comments that were covered in the interview, but before I begin, it may be helpful to provide a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the “controversy” if we can call it that.

Pinto has come under extensive criticism over the last couple of months by a number of folks who take serious issue with the egregious assertions he makes in his Tares Among the Wheat documentary regarding the history of Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest and most complete NT codex we have.

Basically, he suggests that Constantine Von Tischendorf, the textual scholar who discovered the codex at St. Catherine’s monastery, was in league with the Vatican and the Jesuit order to develop a false “Bible” for the purposes of undermining and wrecking the Protestant Christians, especially the doctrine of sola scriptura.  He erroneously identified the codex as a 4th century document (even possibly “intentionally” identifying it as such for his nefarious Jesuit purposes), when in reality, Sinaiticus had been created in the 19th century by a guy named Constantine Simonides.

After Tischendorf began to publish the codex, Simonides wrote an article for The Guardian newspaper in September 1862 in which he claimed he was the writer of the codex as a youthful teenage boy in 1839-40.  Other scholars of that day came to Tischendorf’s aid and debunked Simonides claim rather soundly and he left England in disgrace and eventually died a few years later in 1867.  That true history of the codex’s development, as presented in Pinto’s documentary, has been dismissed and largely forgotten by the modern Christian world who know virtually nothing about Sinaiticus’s true origin and Simonides’s hand in producing it.

I honestly believe Pinto blows the Simonides affair way out of proportion than what it really was and seizes upon the fact that a lot of modern day Christians are unfamiliar with the events. He presents the story in his documentary as some bombshell historical fact that is meant to change the way we should look at the history of our Bible and as a smoking gun that the Roman Catholic Jesuits were involved in corrupting our Bibles so as to supplant the Christian doctrines taught by the Protestant Reformation.

A number of bloggers — myself included — have offered our criticisms of Pinto’s claims to really no avail, for he merely doubles-down on his insistence that Simonides did indeed create Codex Sinaiticus, even though he says in his interview with Howse that he is “just asking questions about it.”

So with that in mind, I want to select a few questions that were raised in the summary of the program, because I believe Pinto, as well intentioned as he may be, is not responding to his critics honestly.

Question: First off you are not a King James Only proponent correct? 

Brannon Howse opened up the interview by asking Pinto if he was a KJV onlyist, to which he replied that he wasn’t.  He says he “prefers” the KJV because to him it is the most faithful and accurate translation we have in English. He doesn’t, however, support all the KJVO arguments because they are extreme.

That is a rather odd statement, because the so-called “featured experts” listed on the promotional material for his documentary are Dr. David Brown, Dr. Henry Hudson, Dr. Ronald Cooke, Dr. Alan O’Reilly, Les Garrett, Roger Oakland, Dr. D.A. Waite, and Dr. H.D. Williams. If you “Google” their names along with “King James Version,” practically everyone of them are featured on KJVO sites or have written books and articles defending KJVO propaganda.

In email correspondence, I have raised this discrepancy with Pinto, asking him why he says he isn’t a KJVO guy, but at the same time seeks out KJVO men as “experts” for his documentary. He claims they did not like the final conclusions of his documentary (whatever that means) and that any refusal by KJV apologists to promote his documentary is proof that he is allegedly outside the camp of KJV onlyism. Yet in spite of that, his documentary is still heavily promoted on a number of KJVO websites and blogs.

Howse also made the comment that just because someone raises scrutinizing questions about the authenticity of Codex Sinaiticus that doesn’t mean the person is a KJV onlyist. But that is not really the issue. The problem is with how Pinto is spinning the historical facts concerning the discovery of the codex and Simonides’s fraudulent claim to be its author to prop up his particular view of the Bible.  My concern is also with the honest portrayal of the facts and besides, Pinto defends his position arguing like a KJV onlyist whether he is one or not.

Question: Codex Sinaiticus seems to be surrounded in controversy and serious questions so why are people that question its authenticity attacked and called names by even some Christian?

Brannon then fields a number of questions about Codex Sinaiticus and Pinto gives the basic background to its discovery and publication. He insinuates that the codex is veiled in a sinister cloud of controversy and conspiracy and rehashes a number of KJVO talking points about it having 23,000 corrections, passages of Scripture missing, and the addition of early Christian literature like the Shepherd of Hermas. Brannon even does a “Hold on a minute! You mean the codex had non-canonical books with in its pages!?” when Pinto mentions about the Shepherd.

That brief discussion then leads to the conspiracy portion of their talk about the Codex, where Pinto implies that Sinaiticus just “appeared out of nowhere” under suspicious circumstances, that Tischendorf quietly publishing the codex had “sinister” motives attached to it, that he had “connections” to the Vatican, and the “23,000 corrections” in the Codex itself is the primary source for a lot of higher criticism that attacks the authenticity of the Bible and orthodox Christianity.

As a side note, it’s important to mention that Pinto seems to believe that higher criticism, the textual criticism that denies the infallibility, inerrancy, and authenticity of Scripture and that has given us the Anchor Bible commentary series, really had its beginnings with the Jesuits.  The Jesuits developed higher textual criticism for the sole purpose of attacking the Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura.

Now all of that leads up to Pinto laying out his story about Simonides and him claiming to have created Codex Sinaiticus. The basic gist of the story is that after Tischendorf published the codex and the scholarly world was all abuzz about it, Simonides wrote a letter to The Guardian newspaper in which he claimed to have made the codex for the Czar in Russia and that Tischendorf misidentified it.  That claim, at least according to Pinto, stirred up a raging scholarly controversy that lasted 4 years until the academic big guns who were all Tischendorf’s pals, ridiculed Simonides so that he left England in disgrace, yet going to his grave insisting that he was the author of the codex.

Pinto has put a lot of stake into the character of Simonides, even calling him a renowned paleographer and manuscript expert.  He makes a big deal out of the fact that pretty much all modern Christians who are familiar with textual criticism are unaware of who Simonides was and the claim he made about the codex.  But the reality of who Simonides was is a much different picture than the one Pinto has painted.

If you recall your history regarding the 18 and 19th centuries, the British Empire became the dominant international superpower. Their presence in the Middle East, coupled with the waning influence of the Ottoman Empire, allowed westerners access to many of the ancient places of the world. The 1800s saw an explosion in the discovery of ancient documents, both secular as well as biblical, along with a greater understanding of ancient societies and cultures like Egypt. The reason being is that people, Christian westerners to be exact, now had unfettered access to those treasures that they previously did not when those areas were under the control of the Ottomans.

Obviously, with money bag westerners coming into the land looking to spend small fortunes to acquire rare works of antiquity, including ancient manuscripts, an entire cottage industry of forgery and art counterfeiting grew up. Simonides was one of those guys — a conman who happened to be a talented calligrapher who could forge ancient documents.

Pinto doesn’t accurately explain to his supporters the back story to Simonides claim about Codex Sinaiticus.  Classic scholar and biblical paleographer, Fredrick G. Kenyon, provides a clearer picture of the story in his book, The Text of the Greek Bible.  He writes,

An ingenious Greek, Constantine Simonides, had about 1855 brought to England a number of manuscripts, among which was one which purported to be a lost history of Egypt by one Uranius. The well-known scholar, W. Dindorf, accepted it as genuine and prepared an edition for the Oxford University Press; but when a few sheets of it had been printed, another German scholar detected that the chronology was obviously taken from a modern history, and after a short controversy the fraud was exposed and the edition suppressed. Tischendorf had taken a hand in denouncing the imposture, and Simonides took his revenge by declaring that, while the Uranius was perfectly genuine, he had written another MS., viz. the Codex Sinaiticus, which he had copied from a Moscow Bible in about six months at Mt. Athos in 1840.  The story was patently absurd; for in 1840 Simonides was only 15 years old, he could not have obtained 350 large leaves of ancient vellum (modern vellum is quite different), he could not have copied it in six months, and no Moscow edition of the Bible with a similar text exists.  Moreover the codex is written by a least three different scribes, and has a large number of corrections in various hands. The story is merely one of the comedies of crime, and is only worth mentioning, because it has since been revived.  The character of Simonides is further illustrated by the fact that he subsequently claimed to have discovered among the Egyptian collections of a Liverpool gentleman a papyrus copy of St. Matthew written fifteen years after the Ascension, with fragments of first-century manuscripts of the Epistle of St. James and St. Jude and other equally surprising documents.  These ingenious forgeries may still be seen at Liverpool. [Kenyon, 80].

So basically, Simonides came to England with some fake manuscripts that he tried to pass off as authentic. One of them was exposed as fraudulent and Tischendorf just so happened to have played a roll in exposing it. That just so happened to be around the time when Codex Sinaiticus was being published and Simonides just so happened to then claim to be its creator. What an amazing coincidence.

Pinto also mentions another scholar named James Farrer, who published a work called Literary Forgeries in 1907 that discussed the Simonides affair.  According to Pinto, Farrer concluded that the whole controversy is one of the “great” mysteries of recent history and that vague conclusion supposedly lends credibility to Simonides as the creator of Sinaiticus.

But Farrer’s book is on-line at Google books and anyone can read the third chapter that goes into the whole Simonides affair.  Though Farrer was a tad more charitable to Simonides’s character than Kenyon in his analysis, he still clearly gives the reader the picture of a con artist who was trying to make a buck and a name for himself by passing off fraudulent documents. Farrer even states that the letters Simonides produced allegedly written by priests and other supporters of his stating that he was in deed the creator of the codex, were thought to also have been forged by him.

All of that to say that Simonides was certainly not the renowned, scholarly paleographer that Pinto wants to make him out to be.

Question: If reporting on the Jesuits, Masons, and Masonic statues and occult symbols and secret societies causes some discernment bloggers to call you names then why are these same bloggers not attacking John MacArthur for talking about the Masons, Jesuits, and even the secret words of Masons as he did in a sermon we have played here on our program? The answer may be these bloggers claim to like Pastor MacArthur so they have a double standard and only attack with what and when it fits their agenda.

That is an odd comment.  I imagine they may have me in mind because I happen to attend Grace Church and work for Grace to You radio ministries.  Honestly,  I can’t understand why Brannon and Chris believe there is an inconsistency or double-standard here. It is true John has preached messages on Catholicism and the Jesuits. I can’t recall if he has specifically addressed the Masonic symbolism, maybe briefly in a sermon, but I’ll take their word for it.

That said, the distinguishing difference between what John has preached about those things and what Pinto is telling us about those things is that John doesn’t take those facts and spin an alternative history that is highly speculative and flounders in the realm of conspiracy. Again, my concern — the concern with all those who have been critical of Pinto’s documentary — is the accuracy of reporting the facts and passing off ridiculous notions about the Bible to an unlearned listening audience.

Why does this all matter?

At various points during the interview, Brannon Howse raises a few questions about the motives of Pinto’s critics.  He talks about having emails from people who have not watched the documentary but are still willing to be critical of Pinto’s research. Howse asks why everyone is so upset about questioning the authenticity of just one biblical manuscript among thousands and what difference does it make if it is proven to be fraudulent.

Pinto explains that all he is doing as a documentarian is reporting the historical facts and allowing the listening audience to decide how those facts should be interpreted.  But rather than dealing with the “facts” of the documentary, Pinto’s critics are painting him as a conspiracy nut and a KJV onlyist.  I guess he means to say we are just leveling ad hominem attacks against him.

Pinto is being completely dishonest here. He is not just “reporting” the history behind the publication of Sinaiticus as if the Simonides affair was just an amusing little episode surrounding the publication of the manuscript.  Oh sure, I guess if a person wants to thoroughly cover the history of Sinaiticus, he’ll mention about how Simonides claimed to have written it in 1840 as a teenager. But if he is a honest researcher, he’ll also present the damning evidence against Simonides claim.

That is the problem people have with Pinto’s documentary. He isn’t just laying out all the facts as he claims he is. He WANTS his viewers to go away from watching his documentary doubting the authenticity of Sinaiticus. He WANTS them to go away thinking that the Jesuit order had a heavy hand in promoting Sinaiticus as a legitimate manuscript because it had such a prominent roll among textual scholars in shaping textual criticism in the 1800s onward. A roll that moved people away from the Received Text that was utilized to translate the KJV.

As Christians, we serve a God of truth. We cannot promote ourselves as “discernment” experts and hold seminars for which people spend good money to attend while being profoundly wrong in one major important area of church history.  Even worse is when people point out how profoundly wrong you are, you bristle and refuse correction.

Chris Pinto is going into David Barton territory with his Thomas Jefferson stuff.  If I recall correctly, Brannon Howse has taken David Barton to task on that subject as well as posted articles by others.  Well, here we have another guy who is spinning history to promote a particular agenda.  His errors in misrepresenting the historical facts have been documented, and yet, both men dismiss it out of hand.

I like Brannon and appreciate what he is doing at Worldview Weekend.  If he honestly doesn’t have a dog in this fight, as he says during the interview, he needs to find some person or persons who he will also interview and allow them to interact objectively with Pinto’s presentation.  That is what a genuine “Berean” would do.