by Cris Putnam
This is my review of Chris Pinto’s film, Tares Amongst the Wheat. Personally, I like Chris Pinto having met him and spent some time talking in the hospitality suite at the first Future Congress. I’ve also enjoyed his past films and even quoted him in my own published work. I also share his zeal in opposing Rome. In Petrus Romanus I discussed a lot of same issues regarding papal authority and the undermining of scripture that are presented in Tares. I wrote an entire chapter centered on “The Donation of Constantine” a Vatican forgery used to undergird papal authority for hundreds of years.
Thus, I am well aware that Rome has a record of altering history and forging documents. I am not predisposed to doubt Pinto’s thesis but I do.
The film is centered on the idea that Codex Sinaticus or “Sinai Bible” was actually created as part of a Vatican conspiracy to undermine biblical inerrancy. I agree with Pinto and others that the Vatican has a vested interest in undermining Sola Scriptura and have argued vigorously that the Bible contradicts Rome’s theological traditions. So the idea is that Rome conspired to forge a Bible that differs significantly from the reformation efforts is plausible. However, Pinto’s conspiracy has huge gaping hole that seems fatal.
After watching the film and hearing Greek New Testament scholar Dan Wallace’s response, I am unconvinced that Codex Sinaticus is a forgery because the conspiracy is fundamentally incoherent. There’s no discernible pay off for the conspirators. The movie did not present any evidence that modern Bibles help Catholic theology in any meaningful way or undermine inerrancy. In fact, I think the opposite is true. The problem for the Tares Amongst the Wheat thesis is that Codex Sinaticus is just as caustic to Rome’s traditions as the King James Version. You would think that if Rome were going to concoct a forgery they might include something about Mary or purgatory but this is not the case. Where’s the payoff for Rome?
Why does Dr. James White, who argues vigorously against Catholic apologists in defense of reformation theology, find the conspiracy to be ridiculous? He comments here. It is because he is aware of the textual critical issues that Pinto is not… the conspiracy is not even possible once you realize what it would necessarily entail. If one bothers to look into textual criticism, you will quickly see that Sinaticus undergirds an entire text type.
Sinaticus is in general agreement with Codex Vaticanus and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, following the Alexandrian text-type. The Alexandrian text-type is the form of the Greek New Testament that is seen in the earliest surviving documents, as well as the text-type used in Egyptian Coptic manuscripts. It seems to reflect the oldest tradition and hence the original documents. In later manuscripts (from the 9th century on), the Byzantine text-type became far more common and remains as the standard text in the Greek Orthodox church and also underlies most Protestant translations of the Reformation era. There are more of them but most scholars put quality over quantity. The KJV and its reverse engineered Greek parallel Textus Receptus are of the Byzantine type. But even so, not a very ancient strain.
The problem with Textus Receptus is it is based on Erasmus’ edition which is based on only six very late Greek manuscripts (10th century) and the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus was a Roman Catholic humanist, so its rather odd that he gets a pass from Pinto. Even worse, the last few verses of Revelation are actually transcribed directly from the Latin Vulgate back into Greek because Erasmus did not have the Greek for the last section. In fact, in over twenty passages, Erasmus’ Greek text are not supported by any known Greek manuscript. This disturbing fact makes TR much more of Roman Catholic origin than Pinto seems to realize.
The problem is that the Alexandrian text type has a huge number of papyri fragments that support it. This is taken from Wikipedia and is based on David Allen Black’s New Testament Textual Criticism:
Uncials: Codex Coislinianus, Porphyrianus (except Acts, Rev), Dublinensis, Sangallensis (only in Mark), Zacynthius, Athous Lavrensis (in Mark and Cath. epistles), Vaticanus 2061, 059, 068, 071, 073, 076, 077, 081, 083, 085, 087, 088, 089, 091, 093 (except Acts), 094, 096, 098, 0101, 0102, 0108, 0111, 0114, 0129, 0142, 0155, 0156, 0162, 0167, 0172, 0173, 0175, 0181, 0183, 0184, 0185, 0189, 0201, 0204, 0205, 0207, 0223, 0225, 0232, 0234, 0240, 0243, 0244, 0245, 0247, 0254, 0270, 0271, 0274.
Minuscules: 20, 94, 104 (Epistles), 157, 164, 215, 241, 254, 322, 323, 326, 376, 383, 442, 579 (except Matthew), 614, 718, 850, 1006, 1175, 1241 (except Acts), 1243, 1292 (Cath.), 1342 (Mark), 1506 (Paul), 1611, 1739, 1841, 1852, 1908, 2040, 2053, 2062, 2298, 2344 (CE, Rev), 2351, 2427, 2464. 
That’s not all of them either. So for Pinto’s conspiracy to work not only is Codex Sinaiticus a forgery, it means that all of these papyri which share the same text type were similarly forged and planted in archeological sites around Egypt and middle east. It starts to get prohibitively absurd when you consider the amount of effort and the number of conspirators that would be required. Even for the Jesuits…
However even if we allow for the sake of argument that all of this is a huge Vatican conspiracy, it just doesn’t compel because you can debunk Peter as pope, the mass as a sacrifice, indulgences, and prayers to Mary and the Saints with an NIV. As far as undermining inerrancy, I find the long ending of Mark from Textus Receptus to be much more problematic. “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mk 16:18. KJV) In contrast, the oldest manuscripts of the Alexandrian text type do not have this passage and modern scholars believe it to be a late edition. Unless you are willing to drink a glass of poison to prove your point, it seems to me that the modern scholars have done inerrancy a huge favor.
 Doug Kutilek, “Erasmus, His Greek Text And His Theology,” accessed September 10, 2013
 David Alan Black, New Testament Textual Criticism, Baker Books, 2006, p. 64.