Dr. Reuben Joseph Swanson

© copyright 2007: Mr. Gary S. Dykes


The most important presentation of the Greek text of the New Testament produced since Tregelles or the Nestle editions, has been that of Dr. Reuben Swanson. The work is titled: NEW TESTAMENT GREEK MANUSCRIPTS: VARIANT READINGS ARRANGED IN HORIZONTAL LINES AGAINST CODEX VATICANUS. At present it is a multi-volume work composed of 9 volumes: (shown as per their order of publication)










Reuben while hard at work on completing the Pauline epistles in a single large volume, Ephesians through Philemon, passed away on March 23, 2009.

His work on the Pauline Epistles reflects his talent as a collator. These 4 (soon 5) volumes will remain the best, fullest and standard reference Greek text for the Pauline epistles FOR DECADES TO COME!! Their accuracy is very good, their presentation of the data superb; the range of manuscripts used is unexcelled, the ease of use is matchless, and the current asking price is very reasonable. Every New Testament scholar who studies the Pauline epistles, will soon rely upon the fullness and accuracy of these works. These volumes (on the Pauline Epistles) are much more useful and complete than ANY OTHER PRECEDING WORKS! Though some critics may not as yet perceive the value of these works, none-the-less they are, in fact, becoming the most relied upon tool(s) for viewing the range of variations as concerns the Greek text of the Pauline epistles! Other works are used for examining the versional data and for patristic readings, but no other works present more data on the Greek readings for the Pauline epistles than do these works. Consequently their emerging importance motivates me to share some of this background information.

How nice it would have been to have background information on the practices of S. P. Tregelles, or Francis Weymouth, or more so even of Eberhard Nestle; even Kurt Aland operated in a fashion largely unknown to those not acquainted with him or the Institute at Münster. For example, how did K. Aland view the inspiration of Scriptures? What were his views upon the trinity, how did he vary from the Lutheran viewpoint? What were his work ethics? We may never know.

FOR THE RECORD and as a lasting reference, for what it is worth, I present some inside information and background materials as concerns the volumes - NEW TESTAMENT GREEK MANUSCRIPTS, to enhance their overall value. I cannot reduce their value, and shall not, but I can give and shall reveal some minor historical points.

The "Record" is broken up into the following three sections [each accessed by scrolling down, or clicking on the links below]:

[1] In the Beginning; how I met Reuben and some biographical information concerning him.

[2] Five/Six years of assisting Reuben and his work; the ups and downs (1997 - 2003)

[3] His work, its impact and future

This is a rather large single HTML page, with numerous images, it will take time to load! Scroll down to begin, or click on each link above to "jump" to that section.


[1] In the Beginning; how I met Reuben and some biographical information concerning him


One day, in 1997, I stumbled upon Reuben's volume on the text of JOHN. I recognized the name, Dr. Reuben Swanson, as in my text-critical studies and readings, I had read and copied his 1968 article in the Harvard Theological Review, "Notes on the Critical Apparatus in Aland's Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum". A copy of it is currently available on-line at the JSTOR site.

Anyways, I found the work by Reuben on John fascinating, and as usual I tested it for accuracy. I found errors quickly in its citation of various minuscule readings, especially on minuscule 1424. I wondered if he was aware of the errors, or if he was even interested in correcting the work. I contacted the publisher, as he (Dr. Winter) stated on the back of the early gospel volumes that the work was: "...scrupulously accurate." I mentioned to Dr. Winter the errors and his comments on the back cover, below is a copy of his reply: (each image has good resolution, so zoom in as needed)


exhibit #1

The above addresses are old, as Reuben and I have both since relocated. Dr. Winter did change his back-cover comments, as seen on the later appearing Acts edition. And I did contact Reuben, who was then residing about 120 miles south of me!

When I first contacted Reuben, it was via a phone call, during which he gave me his mailing address. He was interested in knowing more about his errors, and about meeting another critic. However, it soon became apparent that he preferred to call, and discuss matters on the phone! Beginning in early 1998, we had many late night phone calls, some lasting 45 minutes. He often collated after dinner, in the nice coastal evenings found in Camarillo California. He usually worked until 10 or 11 PM. During the next 6 years I visited Reuben about 4 times, each visit was enjoyable and productive.

As stated, after many of his evening collations, he often called me; however, I did often write him, and he occasionally wrote back. Below is a copy of one of his early notes to me:


exhibit #2 - letter from Reuben

Marian was Reuben's second wife. She passed away in April of 2002. She was very gracious, and I will always remember her gentle presence. Though she had very fragile bones, her health varied month by month. But generally, Reuben did all of the needed chores! Reuben cared patiently for his wife, Marian, in her latter years. She and Reuben were married in 1976. He first met her in 1939, but moved in a different direction. Reuben eventually married his first wife, who later died after a "dibilitating illness". Some time later Reuben and Mirian renewed their past friendship, and were married. Below is a picture of Reuben and Mirian.

exhibit #3

Reuben Swanson, was born April 15, 1917, he died just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday (died: March 23, 2009). He is one of 4 children. He has two sons, one of whom is a pastor in Ohio (where Reuben now resides), the other is retired from the Navy. His one daughter died some time ago. He was born to a family of rather poor farmers in Minnesota, of Swedish stock. He has a brother and sister (who are twins) who are about 83 years of age (circa 2007). He also had one older brother, Irwin, who recently passed away at age 90. Reuben graduated from high school in 1933, at age 16. He began training in the ministry in 1938 at a Lutheran seminary - Gustavus Adolphus College, and hence avoided the WWII draft, as he also had a bad knee (from a skiing accident). He was ordained in the Lutheran faith in 1945, [the Lutheran Church in America].

He first worked with a congregation of Lutherans in Connecticut, which gave him opportunity to pursue further studies at Yale University. In 1956 he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in New Testament Studies from Yale, his dissertation was "The Gospel Text of Clement of Alexandria". He has since pastored various Lutheran parishes all around the United States. He also was Professor [and Emeritus] of Philosophy and Religion at Western Carolina University. Additionally he was professor of Biblical Studies at Grand View Seminary and at Lenoir Rhyne College. His energy level and devotion to work is absolutely amazing!

Besides his volumes on the Greek Manuscripts, he has published a little book titled: "Roots Out of Dry Ground", a peculiar work displaying some of Swanson's sermon styles and poetic tendencies. He has an earlier publication, on the Greek manuscripts of Matthew with commentary, but only 12 known copies of this work were printed! Also his earlier Horizontal Line Volumes (English editions, and a Greek of Matthew only) were printed decades ago, they are still popular but superceded by the current Greek manuscripts volumes. [More on his earlier Greek-Matthew below].

In one of his letters, he discloses how he left Lenoir Rhyne College, which displays some of his famous independence:

exhibit #4 - from letter from Reuben dated Jan. 19, 1998

In October 22, 2003, the amazing Reuben Swanson married Viola Toso Honrud. His third wife! Like Mirian, she too had known Reuben many years prior in Minnesota! They graduated from the same high school. She had been a widow sometime before she and Reuben "re-met". At present he and she are happily married in Ohio. Below is one of their wedding pictures:

exhibit #5

Reuben has/had two great hobbies. He loved to collect rocks and minerals, and he enjoyed scenic photography. He left to Western Carolina his extensive rock collection, and he still keeps (in various locales) numerous photographs he has taken over the years. He also enjoys classical music. Members of his family are fairly long-lived, and all Bible students hope that he finishes his final volume on the Greek Manuscripts.

When Reuben lived in Camarillo, CA., I know that he used to walk daily, and I know that he is a very sensible eater. Even at 90 he still gets out and walks. In 2004 Reuben had cataract surgery on both eyes (one in April, the other in July of 2004), they were very successful and he strives on in his work upon the last portion of the Pauline epistles. A video of Reuben, taken by his grandson (Eric Gill) and posted on UTube [or, is it You Tube??] (by Eric's sister, Jessica Gill), showed a still robust man. The video was made about one month before Reuben passed away, in Fairfield, Ohio.


[2] Five/Six years of assisting Reuben and his work; the ups and downs (1997 - 2003)


After one phone call and a letter, I journeyed down to Camarillo to visit Reuben. I was not sure of what to expect. It was late 1997 or very early in 1998. Reuben lived in a trailer park, a nice quiet one. After the introductions (meeting Mirian) we went out to his study. This was a converted garage, it now housed his library and desk and work area. I stood for a moment and surveyed the area. He had about 500 or so volumes, most on religion, less than a half dozen on Textual Criticism or on Greek manuscripts. In fact it was not the library of a textual critic, but rather one of a philosopher, or of a liberal pastor.

Reproduced elsewhere on this site is the image below, it shows a portion of this work area of Reuben's, and the image below, brings to mind the very situation while he was on the phone. He was calling in to a secretary at William Carey Publishers, and he was giving over the phone last minute corrections to Galatians just before it was to be published. While he was talking I was looking over the proof-galleys of Galatians, and I began casually noticing various errors. I perceived Reuben was about to hang up when I asked:

"Reuben did you mention this error?" Reuben looked at the error I was indicating, and sputtered to the secretary on the phone:

"Oh! just a minute I have another correction". He then gave her the page number. I again pointed out several more, and Reuben continued to recite to her over the phone the errors I was indicating. After which Reuben hung up.

I sat there numb, shocked and slowly feeling depressed. I said, "Reuben, we need to spend a weeek or two correcting these galley proofs." His response was similar to his early responses when I implored about proof-reading, he said: "We will let the next generation correct them in future editions". Again Reuben's lack of concern for quality, or a low view of the sacredness of his work prevailed. So the work was printed, as are all of his works, with NO THIRD PARTY proof-reading! This was not an accident, it is/was willful intent, a total lack of respect for the final version of his work. Such concern speaks volumes.

exhibit #6

This photo was taken on my 2nd or 3rd visit to Reuben's. It is a very telling image. Note especially the film reader behind Reuben, see the falling ribbon of film. It is a film of an actual Biblical manuscript. Reuben had no spool holders on his reader, so the film hung down to the garage floor. This produced scratches over time. Not to mention the fact the the films were constantly exposed to the changing temperatures and humidity in the garage, where they were kept - the garage was not heated or air conditioned! When I first noticed these things, I was at first shocked. But as time passed, I realized that these matters were not important to Reuben.

Reuben was desperately seeking someone to carry on his labors. He was shocked when he learned that I had no degrees. He excluded me from consideration as an assistant. If it were not for the fact that I possessed many manuscript films which he desired, he probably would have had little interest in me. He wanted a PhD bearing person, to train to replace him. Nothing less. I suddenly became aware of the psychological state of affairs and of the man Reuben Swanson. [more on this below].

Reuben had very little training as a textual critic. True, one of his instructors at Yale was Millar Burrows, but if he was taught any relevant palaeographical or codicological methods and observations, they were long forgotten. Reuben had no way to determine the date of any manuscripts, he had no Kurzgefasste Liste, he had no texts on textual criticism, no works on palaeography. He did have a copy of some collations of codex 02, he had several Greek NT editions. No Greek concordance no Greek dictionaries were seen. (However he may have had a Greek dictionary somewhere!).

Reuben could collate. He could recognize many ligatures. But he was astonishingly naive as concerns the science or art of textual criticism, and of basic palaeography. I realized that it was by accident that he was even doing this work on the Greek manuscripts.

Fortuantely, for us, Reuben did not need extensive knowledge about textual criticism, nor of codicology nor of palaeography. He needed to see clearly, to accurately record data, to read minuscule and uncial scripts. Thats it! Well, he also became good at imputing data into the computer. (Though he was very ignorant as concerns any other aspects of a computer)! It was merely his collation ability which the volumes in his Greek New Testament manuscripts needed. His persistence is also a plus. I suppose that this is also the place to list some other problems with the/his process.

In the early days of his education and teaching career, Reuben, for some reason took offense to the work of the Germans in Münster. Who knows why, something in his childhood, or Germanic-Swedish relations? I have no idea, but he was and is like a man possessed to expose the errors in the editions of the Nestle/Aland Greek New Testaments.

Reuben's earlier works on the gospels are kind of a patch-work. Pieces joined from earlier efforts. The earlier efforts were not corrected, and he added to them more recent collations and ended up with his present 4 volumes on the gospels. So the 4 volumes are a combination of earlier and newer works, now joined. Here is a sample page from his 1982 work on Matthew:

exhibit # 7 sample from Matthew 28:15-19

In the above he uses about 20 manuscripts, the one papyrus is P45. He does show parallel readings in the other gospel accounts. Herein we see the earlier form of Reuben's work method. The parallel lines are an excellent means by which to compare the manuscript readings.

In this next image we compare a portion from his 1982 publication on Matthew with his current edition of Matthew, the current publication is the lower portion of the image below the line: [the sample passage is from Matthew 4:1]

exhibit #8 - sample passage from Matthew 4:1

Use of the computer has greatly improved the appearance of his work. But we also see that he has utilized new witnesses. He has combined MSS 1, 118 and 1582 (when they agree) into the single sigla ƒ1. Near the bottom of his newer edition, we see minuscule 1346. A now famous error. Reuben thought this was MS 1346. He had absolutely NO IDEA that it was really MS 346, he simply saw a shelf number on the outside of the ABMC filmbox, and thought that that was the Gregory/Aland number. He now uses about 42 MSS for the newer text of Matthew.

While at Western Carolina University, the university gave to him (or loaned to him) about 50 films of NT manuscripts. This became the nucleus of his collection. Most of the materials then were of the gospels. Years later, while in California, he was able to acquire more films from the ABMC. In fact nearly all of his new gospel material was from the ABMC. For some reason, his earlier collations, and some of his newer ones on the minuscules were not very accurate, but I clarify this and illustrate some possible reasons below.

After the gospel editions were finished, Reuben faced a major change. Acts typically required him to utilize a new set of praxapostolos type manuscripts. So he set out to procure these from the ABMC. We see what he acquired in his ACTS edition; below is a copy of the MSS used in his work on ACTS:

exhibit #9 - MSS for ACTS

Alas, Reuben is now working in a new environment! He is viewing MSS he is not familiar with. And throughout most of ACTS, one notes a large amount of collation/reading errors. It is at this junction that I meet Reuben. I upbraid him for his errors. I scold him. I told him that such a rate of errors is unacceptable. Though he does not publicly admit it, I motivated him to excell. His later works (from Galatians onward) are much more accurate. Perhaps he was upset that a person who is self-taught could so correct him.

Note too in the list above many MSS not available from the ABMC- Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center. Manuscripts such as: 614, P53, and 1175 and others. They came from his gopher, Mr. Dykes. For I provided him with these MSS. If I did not possess the needed film, I went to the trouble to write to the holding facility and to order it for Reuben. I then made a copy, and sent him the copy, I kept the original film sent from the library or monastery. I gave him for free some of my copies, but later began charging him for films from overseas. I was surprised that Reuben had not first done this necessary work to acquire the needed films BEFORE beginning such a serious project. I suspect that he was going to carry on in such a haphazard willy-nilly manner! That is— beginning a work without the needed resources, or proposing a work which was intentionally deficient!

As he began his work on Galatians, I began to get more films for him. I do not know the exact number, but I shared and sent to him about 30-35 films. I also shared with him some transcriptions of papyri which I had carefully made in my preparations for my own work. Some of the films I acquired for Reuben, were not then in America, and I use almost all of my films for my work on First Corinthians. So when it came to the Pauline Epistles, I was prepared, but Reuben was not. I had spent years preparing for my work on Corinthians, and I believe this is the case for most scholars as they prepare to do a major project.

A sponsor, a rancher in Colorado (as I recall, a Richard Mott, to whom the Acts volume is co-dedicated to) sends a donation to Dr. Winter's organization, this money serves as a small salary to pay Reuben for his efforts. Mr. Mott is either of the Quaker persuasion or is a Christian Scientist (my memory fails me here). At any rate, Reuben receives monetary compensation for the work, and he has received some basic equipment (computer et al).

One occasion which shocked me was a phone call from Reuben one evening. He said that the folks in Münster needed to correct their manuscript listings (he did eventually acquire some manuscript content listings from Mr. Dykes). According to Reuben, MSS 1342 contained the Pauline Epistles, and NOT as Münster claimed the gospels only. Did Münster make such a gross error? I checked the Kurzgefasste, and indeed 1342 contained only the gospels, but Reuben said it contained the Pauline epistles as well. So I asked Reuben to send me a copy.

After receiving the film copy, I immediately recognized the manuscript, as it was a manuscript I use in my work! But it was NOT MS 1342. It was MS 2492. The shelf number at Mt. Sinai was 1342; Reuben used this number as the manuscript number (an error he has committed several other times!). So Reuben had to go through his nearly finished work on Galatians and correct this mysterious 1342 reading! I am glad that he sent me a copy before the work was printed!

I offered to proof-read Reuben's work. I even bought software so that I could read his Mac files on my PC computer. But Reuben never shared his files with me. This goes back to an earlier observation: Reuben was not very (is not) secure in his ability as a textual critic. He is insecure, and having associations with a lowly person such as myself with no degrees, was more than Reuben could bear. He could not psychologically allow me to participate in the work. Sad. So I functioned as a servant, working in the background to get him needed materials. But I did much more.

Much more.

Below is a copy of information which Reuben wanted from me, he wanted my opinion as to the value of the following manuscripts. He wanted to know which ones he should or should not use:

exhibit #10 - letter from Reuben, dated August 8, 2000

So I marked the above list with numbers from 1 thru 10 indicating which MS was important and which ones he should or should not use. Reuben shows 6 manuscripts still on order from me. Besides these 6, I note that MSS 424, 1837, 1734, 1175, 1245, 910, 2464 and others were also from me. In addition to advising him as to which MSS to use, he needed codicological information, such as the canon order of certain MSS, where the MSS were now located, and the dates of their creation. In fact I revised his error-filled MSS list as seen above in Acts (exhibit #9). I have copies of canon orders for MSS 910, 1982, 2815, and 2464, which he needed, and I sent them to him. I also demonstrated for him the folio order for reading MSS which were filmed from the rear-to-front.

Below is a copy of some of the foliations of MS 365, by doing this for Reuben I saved him several hours of trying to locate the connected texts in Galatians. It was sent along with the film of MS 365 which I ordered for him. Below the chart is a copy (exhibit #12) of the receipt/amount Reuben sent to me for a copy of MS 365. I received a number of checks from Reuben for film copies and other data.

exhibit #11 - chart of MS 365 foliation

exhibit #12 - receipt for payment for MS 365 film

Amazingly Reuben actually thought that the Library in Florence would photograph MS 365 just for Reuben's order. When in actuality, they sent a copy of a previous film. Again some of Reuben's naiveness is apparent.



Below is a copy of another letter from Reuben:

exhibit #13 - letter from Reuben, Sept. 1999

In the above he mentions other MSS which I provided for him. He really needed help with the "fragmentary" MSS, the papyri. In fact he was not keen on using them. Consequently, I did not send him much material on the papyri. I also sent him a copy of my copy of Tischendorf's transcription of codex 06.

Reuben asked me about the abbreviations for the names of God and Christ, whether or not should he show them as abbreviations or what, and where he should place the data. I advised him to show the abbreviations. I advised him to show all itacisms and other minor orthographic errors or variations, I patiently explained to him why he needed to show such itacisms and variations as it aided the textual critic as to provenance and dialectical indications! Not to mention identifying various scriptoriums, scribes and styles! This greatly increased his work, but adds to the depth. Reuben, in his work on Galatians, took my advice and placed the orthographical variants in the main apparatus. However as seen below, he did not refer the reader to me as the source for the change, but rather to Moulton and Metzger.

exhibit #14 - from Galatians, Introduction

Of course I can understand why Reuben did not give me credit, Moulton and Metzger's names bolster his credibility, as I (Gary Dykes) am not one who is recognized, however it is on/in THE RECORD that I did first advise him as to the placement of orthographical readings and the need to show the names of God (as abbrerviations) in the main apparatus.


I sent him a copy of Aland's TEXT UND TEXTWERT DER GRIECHISCHEN HANDSCHRIFTEN DES NEUEN TESTAMENTS. II. DIE PAULINISCHEN BRIEFE. Reuben had never seen such a work. It amazed him, and he immediately attacked it and set out to correct it. His corrections to it first appear in his work on Galatians, beginning on page 93. He referred to the work (T and T) as a "joke".

His late wife Mirian, bought Reuben a copy of Tischendorf's 8th, in about the year 2000. He immediately set out to correct Tischendorf, never realizing that Tischendorf was working from the original manuscript, and he Reuben from films of varying quality. His "corrections" to Tischendorf begin to appear in his work on I Corinthians. Which brings up another topic.

About 1999, Reuben and I exchanged some films of manuscripts. I wanted copies of 8 of his films. I paid $10.00 for each copy, a total of $80.00. I gave to Reuben copies of excellent and easy to read films (as I always did - I made sure the films I sent to him were easy to read). I was amazed at the copies from his films. I could not read 4 of them, and one other was barely legible. I had to throw them away. One which I recall was codex 010. It became obvious how Reuben made so many errors, he was using very old and very degraded films! And he did not want any proof-readers interfering with HIS work. Nor was he interested in upgrading any of his films, nor for learning how to care for and store such valuable materials.

His films were not of great value to Reuben. He was not interested in upgrading them! Which brings up another issue, his feelings and views about the Word of God, the Scriptures. We spent some time arguing over theological issues, which are important issues to me. Fortunately his work on the Manuscripts is fairly objective, his odd theology had little impact upon his collations. But they do reveal some clues as to the person - Reuben Swanson the theologian. And his theological views assisted with perverting his growth in the area of textual-criticism.

Perhaps because Reuben did not perceive God's Word as unique and God-breathed is why he was not too concerned about his rate of errors, or concerned about proof-reading, or not concerned about revising and correcting his earlier works on the gospels. One may be justified in wondering just WHY Reuben is doing this work? I suspect his ego has a large stake in his motivations, as well as the fame he is already acquiring. Reuben is a gentleman, and has lived a much nobler life than I, but I detest some of his views about God's Word, and religion in general. Note these comments from Reuben:

exhibit #15 - part of letter from Reuben, dated Jan. 1998

Unlike Luther, Reuben does not recognize the unique Inspiration of God's Word. Reuben's penchant for philosophy has often corrupted his Biblical views. Like the Gnostics, he constantly welds human rationale with Divine revelation. Unlike Luther, Reuben believes we can never recreate the orginal text of God's Word, that it is lost, and that we must be satisfied with error-filled copies which contain some of God's Word.

Note below, this copy from his introduction to I Corinthians , page xxxi:

exhibit #16 - quote from I Cor.

This is a sad admission (above) from Reuben, obviously he does not understand I Corinthians 2:16! He proposes that critics, instead, try to reconstruct later texts which are recensions appearing during various periods in church history. I wrote a response to these ludicrous remarks, I never sent the file to him, but it exposes many of Reuben's lack of textual acumen(s). Click on the PDF image, below, to download the brief paper:

Links to PDF file, "Some Comments Upon Reuben Swanson's Proposal..."


Again, it is fortunate that Reuben's forte is not textual criticism, but rather his ability to present collated data. Hence, his comments on textual criticism can be ignored. It is his presentation of the data which is all important and useful.

What I am thankful for is that I was able to impact Reuben's work. I demanded that he reduce his number of errors! I insisted that he show all minor orthographical variants in the main apparatus. I sent him good copies of useful manuscripts, and I assisted him with codicological issues. I also answered innumerable questions for him over the phone. I did some proof-reading, and corrected his work in many places for him. He gives me a line of acknowledgement in his "Acknowledgements" and this is reward enough. In some of his earlier works, I did not want my name associated.

I quit assisting Reuben in 2003, as I could not go along with his somewhat popular views of the text and its inspiration. Reuben believed that the reader of God's Word is the object of inspiration, whereas I believe that the original written Words and thoughts are the object of inspiration. Here is one portion of a letter in which he speaks of Inspiration; though confusing, Reuben did not consider God's Word (the NT) to be Divinely Inspired, inerrant and infallible or complete.

exhibit #17- from letter from Reuben, dated Jan. 19, 1998

Via such a warped view, Reuben can declare that what he now writes is as equally Inspired as are the documents of the New Testament. It is apparent that to him the canon is not closed!! This borders upon blasphemy in my mind. Because of such beliefs, I found it impossible to continue to support Reuben.

I trust that his volumes will enlighten all as to the actual text and readings of the Pauline Epistles. I pray that he finishes his final volume on the Pauline Epistles. Again, his work on the Pauline epistles is the best we have today for examining the variants in these portions of the Pauline Epistles. The volumes cannot be recommended enough! They are not perfect, but their error rates are much lower than his previous attempts, and I claim some credit for this improvement.


Below a closing shot of a most unlikely pair! By the way, I have gotten married since the picture was taken, and I look much more presentable. Reuben is on the right, we are in front of the converted garage in Camarillo.

exhibit #18 - 2 real characters

click to jump back to the top of this page

[3] His work, its impact and future


Since Reuben saw me unfit to take over his work, he has labored on for several years not knowing if he would ever find a replacement. Unknown to him, I received on September 23, 2003 the following e-mail from a Dr. Clark Kent -- ha ha, (I keep thinking of Superman) no really it is Dr. Kent Clarke of Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada:

exhibit #19 - E-mail from Clarke

AHA!! Have we found a willing soul! Indeed, Dr. Clarke has officially become Reuben's replacement. I had the honor of helping him to connect with Reuben, whom he was unable to locate. Eventually he got together with Reuben in Ohio and learned Reuben's methods. Thus Reuben remains on at work with the remainder of the Pauline epistles, and Dr. Clarke is at work on the text of Revelation. Reuben gave to Dr. Clarke working copies of his films.

On the Trinity Western University website ( one can see Dr. Clarke viewing some of the films he received. Since he was posing for a picture, you would think that he would have had gloves on, though he is holding the film by the edges!

Dr. Clarke has his work cut out! Especially as he wants to clean-up Reuben's earlier quagmire on the Gospels and Acts. At the moment, all he has is copies of Reuben's lamentably poor films! But Dr. Clarke sounds young, eager, and serious. Several Canadian newspapers printed major stories declaring that Canada just received from an American scholar (Swanson) its largest collection of films of Biblical manuscripts! The collection was to be archived and shared at Trinity Western. I am surprised that this is Canada's largest! Canada must be very deficient as concerns the study of Biblical manuscripts. A few of those films have my name in them! as I put my name in a few (a few not all) of the films I shared with Reuben. I certainly did not give him (Reuben) permission to send the films out of America. Oh well I just hope they are used and are fruit-bearing. I asked Reuben about those first 50 or so films he received from Western Carolina (back in the late 60s), I asked if they gave him permission to take the films from the University when he left, he did not reply!

BELOW IS A QUOTE, it concerns a grant awarded to Dr. Clarke:

"Dr. Kent Clarke , resident textual critic at Trinity Western University , was given the torch by Dr. Swanson to complete the work he started 50 years ago. Biblical software company "Bible Works" ensured that Dr. Clarke would be able to do so in style. Bible Works recently awarded Dr. Clarke with a professorship title and a $250,000 grant to produce and publish bound and digital versions of the remaining Swanson volumes. Dr. Clarke now holds the Reuben J. Swanson professorship in New Testament Textual Criticism, Hermeneutics, and Greek Studies. "

Later, Dr. Clarke's "title" was changed to "Westcott/Hort Professorship in New Testament Textual Criticism" (or similar), for some reason Reuben's name was no longer used!!??

One of Dr. Clarke's chores will be to add corrections to Reuben's work already noted. Back in the 1990s, Dr. Wieland Willker encouraged me to post a list of errata I had been collecting. I did so, others contributed and a list of hundreds (probably thousands of errors) was soon generated. I was unable to maintain the site, so Dr. Willker maintains it on his site.

Below is a sample of the errors seen in just ONE minuscule manuscript used by Reuben in Acts, MS 945, as noted by a friend of mine at the Institute in Münster, Klaus Witte:

exhibit #20 - Klaus Witte's corrections

Witte exhibits about 45 collation errors in just this one manuscript, they are keyed to the page and verse number in Reuben's volume on ACTS. Though Clarke maintains that Reuben proof-read his text, his proof-reader was not another person! Proper proof-reading must be done by another person, a third party. If Clarke does not know this, then Reuben's work may have fallen into questionable hands!

Below is an image of Reuben in the 1970s:

exhibit #21 - Reuben in the 70s

As mentioned earlier, Reuben's earlier works on the 4 Gospels and Acts are not at the level of his latter works upon the Pauline epistles. I hope that my influence was one of the primary factors in the improvements. As I also have else where stated, use his earlier works with caution, use his works on the Pauline epistles with a fair degree of confidence. This is not to say that his works on the Pauline epistles are not to be proof-read, they should be. It would be nice to see his works published in 2 nice smyth-sewn, acid-free paper, hard cover edition volumes. AFTER they have been revised. It is hoped that the folks at Trinity Western will give to the revision the time and resources and monies to produce a lasting masterpiece.

William Carey Library (Reuben's publisher) often states erroneous facts or details of Reuben's work, note the copy from page 46 of their 2007 catalogue below:

exhibit #22 - William Carey catalogue ad

REALLY, ALL the known variants!! Quite an overstatement. Such is the milieu in which Reuben functions! Despite such handicaps and Reuben's naiveness, the resulting work, in the Pauline epistles, is a great achievement!

As for me, my work on I Corinthians moves along slowly. It not only shows the Greek variations in nearly 100 Greek manuscripts, but also variations in 6 ancient versions! It also has a literal English translation and apparatuses for the English reader, plus numerous other features which are too numerous to enumerate. I may never finish my work on Corinthians. I see greater needs amongst the saints today, than a work which affects so few. Defending basic Biblical truths seems much more relevant. I also maintain this website:


I will see Reuben again, in the future, but until then, I am pleased to have contributed to his great work on the Pauline Epistles.

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