Refuting Bryan Ross again


Bryan Ross, an American Baptist pastor, used to believe that Matthew 5:18 was referring to the jots and tittles of Scripture.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18).

Even Textus Receptus Onlyist D. A. Waite understood that this verse was speaking about the written Scripture, though he applied it to the original languages only, at least saw that it applied to the New Testament as much as it did the Old.

But Bryan Ross has come to question this interpretation altogether, seemingly denying God’s care for the very parts of letters of His Scripture, and now taking a position, in alignment with modernists, that this verse is only talking about promises in the Old Testament about Jesus, and not about the words and letters that contain those promises. In other words, Pastor Ross has completely disconnected the meaning of the passage from the implication that God’s words, God’s law itself, is made up of words and letters.

People win court cases over a comma in the constitution or a law! When we are told that God’s law is perfect, surely the very form of it, the very writing must needs be perfect in and of itself!

How did Bryan Ross come to question the obvious, natural interpretation of this passage? Well, he began by being bamboozled by walking by sight. Specifically, he read in a book by David Norton that there had been changes made by editors in the King James Bible. (How that was a shock to any Norman Normal out there, I don’t know.)

Now this is rather strange, since F. H. A. Scrivener had written about this in 1873 and 1884. And that D. A. Waite had made copies available of Scrivener’s book. I’d written about the subject since 2007 online too. So how is it that Bryan Ross turned to Norton’s book, and instead of thinking like I did, or like D. A. Waite did, he started to approach the thinking of Norton and began to think like the modernists?

And so, seeing editorial changes (more than just Norton’s data), he accepted elements of Norton’s perspective.

Bryan Ross has written, “My decision to use David Norton’s book A Textual History of the King James Bible to frame this discussion came under scrutiny this past week on social media. It has been asserted that Professor Norton is unsaved and therefore is not to be trusted in his reporting of textual data/facts. This assertion is coupled with the premise that Norton edited his own edition of the KJB from Cambridge University Press called the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (NCPB). I have never supported or advocated for the NCPB. Just because Norton makes editorial decisions in his NCPB that I would not approve of does not mean that his presentation of the textual facts as it relates to the printed history of the KJB text are in error. One needs to distinguish between Norton’s cataloging of textual variants in the printed history of the King James text and his editorial work on the NCPB.”

I personally questioned why Bryan Ross was relying heavily upon Norton, but it certainly was not me who said that Norton could not be trusted in his reporting of data/facts. I in fact, do trust what he records about the 1611 to the present time. What I strongly disagree with is his interpretation of that data, his turning to an 1602 manuscript as being an alleged draft and his going to the original languages in how he then makes judgments on editing. (Besides his modernisation of the KJB and weird changes in places.)

Further, I said that it appeared that Norton was not an evangelical.

But if Bryan Ross is representing what I said, then he is grossly misrepresenting me, as badly as he has accused others of misrepresenting others.

Let me say that I am very much against the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible, and it is pleasing to see that Ross says he is also not advocating for it.

Bizarrely it appears as if he is attempting to lecture me on distinguishing between Norton’s catalogues and Norton’s editorial work, when that is exactly my position — has Bryan Ross read my materials?!

Norton’s method is to compare editorial variations in the printed history of the KJB with an annotated 1602 manuscript from the Bodleian Library (which may have been annotated after 1611) and reference to the original languages.

What Bryan Ross is fighting against is the simplistic idea that spelling changes and typographical errors are the only thing that ever happened in the printed history of the KJB. I understand that. But instead of taking a balanced or reasoned view (e.g. consulting multiple sources like Scrivener, Norris, me etc.) Ross has limited himself to only Norton. Now, I don’t actually advocate for the so-called “balanced” view, but that’s how modern academia works, which is that you should look at multiple perspectives when studying a discipline, not railroad yourself to the scholarship of one man.

Free self promotion here, but my material is freely available and Ross could use that to augment or “counterbalance” a sole reliance on Norton… of course, he could primarily follow in my path, which is at least is not discounting D. A. Waite and Gail Riplinger … and I am not 100% with either of those two people’s positions, but I think we should be fair and friendly and take up when teachers have said the right things or helped further the good cause of God’s words. To be very honest, I could not have written my monograph Glistering Truths without having read materials from both Waite and Riplinger.

So it almost looks like Byran Ross is disconnecting with all of one side, but connecting with Norton and liaising with anti-King James Bible agitator Mark Ward (without being in full agreement with either of those two.)

Though the warning is:

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3).


My position has always been that there are indeed editorial changes in the King James Bible. These editorial changes are due to typographical errors (whether in 1611 or at other times) and their being corrected, whether they are spelling and grammar standardisation occurring over time, or whether they are other editorial regularisation (which includes all kinds of things, like introducing consistencies in word forms, work on the italics, etc. etc.) I fully accept that editors have made changes that other editors have changed afterwards.

So we come to the problem of where Bryan Ross is going beyond just recognising this, because when Norton is his guide, he is not just looking at the fact of something has changed, but is now getting to the place of interpreting how/why it has changed.

That’s where the problem comes in, because my position and that of the King James Bible only community as a whole is that what was presented to the press in 1611 is in fact what we have today, with editorial improvement. That is, that the underlying text and the translation has not been changed, but that intended version and translation of 1611 is here today.

But because Bryan Ross is turning to Norton, the problem I am warning of is the danger of not just using Norton’s data, but being coloured by how and why Norton is presenting certain data, and what Norton is indicating about that data.

To illustrate, I will show how Bryan Ross follows Norton’s perspective on the data on Job 4:6.

First, the facts. In 1611, it had, “Is not this thy feare, thy confidence; the vprightnesse of thy wayes and thy hope?” Now it has, “Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?”

The fact is that essentially the words “and thy hope” at the end went to a different position in the sentence, to be “thy hope, and”. Now, there was a bit more of intermediate changing in 1629, but this is a case ultimately of editors moving some words around at an isolated place.

This happens to be one of the biggest changes in the KJB’s history as made by editors, and if this somehow is to induce us to doubt that God promised to care for the jots and tittles of Scripture, then it is a failure, since some words just moved position a little. Hardly the stuff of a mountain altogether on a smoke.

A proper editorial approach does not require a necessary turning to the Bishops’ Bible (or Geneva, etc.) nor should the Bodleian manuscript that is purportedly a draft document be any factor in this. Yet this is exactly what Bryan Ross, following his modernist-minded guide, Norton, is doing. He lists both the Bishops’ and the Bodleian Manuscript as part of this editorial analysis.

Ross then interprets the proper editing of Job 4:6 (which does not change the actual translation, nor the readings,) with this statement:

“When one charts the changes made to Job 4:6 in the various editions of the AV, it is inescapable that all of these changes are not simply the correction of printer errors and updates in spelling.”

Well, hello, who would assert spelling changes here? Of course not. We are talking about editorial work within the confines of the AV’s printed history. Remembering that the Cambridge editors had access to the actual print master handed to the press from the translators, according to some accounts, and importantly, that surviving translators were involved in the editing of 1638, then of course we can trust the editing!

But we should not do, as Norton does, and think in terms of putting emphasis onto some Bodleian manuscript, nor would we have to do, as Ross does, and throw the Bishops’ Bible into the mix.

Why? Because the Bishops’ is a different version and translation, and we are only dealing with editorial propriety here.

Ross states, “it is undeniable that the Cambridge editors impacted the wording of the text.” Well, yes, the English editorial text, but not the underlying text. Further, this statement seems to suppose a conflict with a position that the 1611 wording itself is to be venerated to the very letter. No one of knowledge holds such a position. (Ruckman, Riplinger, Waite, Hills, Gipp, etc. none of them used the 1611 Edition in their teaching and writing.)

When William Kilb[o]urne tried to charge that the 1611 was being undermined by editors, the Puritans sided with the editors! When Thomas Curtis tried to make a similar case in 1833, that same position was destroyed in the eyes of the public, thanks to the leadership from Thomas Turton and others.

All of this does not in some way give credence to the view that God doesn’t care for the very perfection of the words of Scripture, or that Matthew 5:18 must somehow not be referring to the letters of the Scripture.

On the contrary, right editing through time has lead to the apotheosis (a word which Pastor Bryan apparently struggles with) of wording and lettering. The text (version/readings) and the translation were already right in 1611. What was required was needful editing dealing with a range of issues (typos, standardisation, regularisation, etc.) all of which has resulted in what we have now.

Bryan Ross argues, “If one requires verbatim identicality of wording as the standard for preservation they must choose which edition of the KJB is correct in Job 4:6.” This idea of having an exact standard is only true in relation to the English of the Bible alone, and with what comparison can we compare it to? Only until there is the product of correct editing is there then a correct form manifest and visible. Therefore there cannot be “identicality” because there is no previous English editing which is the standard of correctness. Therefore, unless it comes to pass, it doesn’t exist.

Well, the answer is simple. The King James Bible has gone through a process of good editing, and despite any small problem being made over time, lots has been done to improve the English presentation, until we come at last to one final perfect edition.

And you know, the verse in Matthew 5:18 has relevance, because if God has a word that Jesus is fulfilling, and the written word is manifest, and we have it in English, then it also implies the necessity for proper editing, which God has been with and blessed.

David Norton doesn’t believe that, of course, he believes in no standard but that he made what he thinks to be the best edition as based on naturalistic reasoning. Frankly, it’s probably the worst edition ever made.

So we have Bryan Ross taking on elements of Norton’s methodology; denying that Matthew 5:18 is talking about getting the lettering of the Bible right; and ultimately not understanding that God has a perfect standard in Heaven, and has outworked in history to bring to pass a perfect standard in Earth.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10).