Zane C. Hodges

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Zane C. Hodges
Zane C. Hodges

Zane Clark Hodges (June 15, 1932 – November 23, 2008) was an American pastor, seminary professor, and Bible scholar.

Some of the views he is known for are these:

  • "Free Grace theology," a view that holds that eternal life is received as a free gift only through belief in Jesus Christ for eternal life (a person cannot lose their salvation even by falling away from the faith).
  • "Eternal rewards," a view that various passages in the New Testament are not dealing with eternal salvation but addressing Christians and the opportunity to earn eternal rewards or to caution against their loss.
  • His position in support of the Majority Text.



Hodges was reared in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and came to Dallas, Texas in 1954 after receiving a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College. He received a master of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1958. He then taught New Testament Greek and Exegesis (1959–1986) at Dallas Seminary and was chairman of the New Testament Department for some time.

Hodges also served as pastor at Victor Street Bible Chapel, formerly The Old Mission in Dallas, for almost 50 years. He was the founder and president of Kerugma Ministries.[1]


Free Grace and the Lordship Salvation Controversy

In the late 1980s, Hodges and John F. MacArthur presented differing views over the gospel through various books, generally known as the "Lordship salvation controversy". Hodges defended the Free Grace position, which teaches that the free gift of eternal life is without cost to the believer, that it comes through simply believing in Jesus Christ. A distinction is recognized between believing (which results in receiving eternal life) and submission to the Lordship of Christ (which is part of the sanctification process). Free Grace Theology also teaches that once a person believes in Jesus Christ, they cannot lose their salvation. MacArthur argued instead for Lordship Salvation, claiming that the faith that saves invariably results in works, and that a true Christian would not continue sinning without remorse but would instead obey God's commands to do good works. MacArthur viewed biblical faith as always including the notion of surrender and obedience, while Hodges taught that biblical faith was the conviction that something is true.


Hodges rejected the view of repentance as a "change of mind", holding instead the view that it is a God-fearing decision to turn from sin: "Repentance is the decision to turn from sin to avoid, or bring to an end, God's temporal judgment" (Harmony with God, p. 57). Hodges stresses that repentance facilitates faith in Christ, but is not a condition for eternal salvation, nor is it part of faith itself. "It is one thing to say that repentance facilitates faith in Christ—the Bible teaches that. It is quite another thing to say that repentance is a requirement for eternal life. That the Bible does not teach" (Harmony with God, p. 93).

Initially in his book Absolutely Free! and later in more detail in his book Harmony with God Hodges took the position that the process of repentance may be a preparatory step in coming to salvation and should be evident in the life of a believer, but eternal life is received by believing in Jesus, not by turning from sin. Hodges points out that the gospel of John, which he claims is the only book of the Bible written to lead the unsaved to Christ, never uses the term "repentance." In Harmony with God Hodges says there is only one answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" Hodges emphatically states, "[Pauls and Silas'] answer said absolutely nothing about repentance. Instead they gave the famous and simple reply 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31)."

Majority Text

In 1982, Hodges published with Arthur L. Farstad an edition of The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text with Apparatus. The Byzantine text-type, or Majority Text, is considered by its advocates to be a more accurate rendering of the Greek New Testament, though the more commonly accepted New Testament text, called the Alexandrian text-type, which is used in the Nestle-Aland (N/A) text and the United Bible Societies Greek Testament (UBS), is based on more ancient New Testament fragments. Hodges argues:

"The amount of variation between the manuscripts containing the Majority Text appears to be significantly less than the variations found in the papyrus texts of Egypt. This is to say that any two manuscripts containing the Majority Text are likely to differ with each other less than any two papyri might differ from one another. … [A]dditionally, many of the uncial (capital letter) manuscripts contain a predominantly Majority form of text. The Majority form, however, is much less well represented in the Egyptian papyri … Is it possible that the N/A and UBS editions of the New Testament represent only an approximation to an early form of text that once circulated in Egypt? Where is the evidence that this kind of text really existed elsewhere in the ancient world? …Perhaps the great numerical superiority of the Majority Text (80% in the minuscule manuscripts) is its own argument for the high antiquity of that text. All other explanations of its majority status lack real plausibility. Indeed, the predominance of this majority can actually be understood as the expected outcome of a normal and natural transmission of the New Testament manuscripts." (Zane Hodges & Earl Radmacher, The NIV Reconsidered: A Fresh Look at a Popular Translation, 1990, pp. 136, 137, 143, 144)

Wilbur Pickering said:

"The critical edition of the ‘Byzantine’ text being prepared by Zane C. Hodges. Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at the Dallas Theological Seminary, Arthur Farstad, and others, and to be published by Thomas Nelson, will differ from the Textus Receptus In over a thousand places... Hodges will be very happy to hear from anyone interested in furthering the quest for the definitive Text" (The Identity of New Testament Text, Wilbur N. Pickering, foreword by Zane Hodges, Thomas Nelson, 1977, 1980, pages 212, 232-233).

D. A. Waite’s pamphlet, Defects in the So-called "Majority Greek Text" says

Completely to scuttle the testimony of [1] ancient versions, [2] church fathers quotations, and [3] the lectionaries In the laborious process of New Testament Textual Criticism Is not only to act foolishly and unwisely; not only to go In direct opposition to the sound principles of Dean John William Burgon [a scholarly Bible-believing textual critic of the 19th century]; but it is also to contradict the recommendations contained in another book published by the same publisher (Nelson) entitled The Identity of the New Testament Text by Wilbur N. Pickering (Nelson, 1977) with a foreword by none other than Zane C. Hodges! Which Nelson are we to believe? The 1977 Nelson, or the 1982 Nelson? Which Hodges are we to believe? The 1977 Hodges, or the 1982 Hodges? Has truth changed in just five years?
In 1896, Dean Burgon, in his Traditional Text of the Gospels (as edited by Edward Miller) outlined his "principles" of textual criticism (pages 19-39). The materials for this sacred science included [1] copies (page 21); [2] church lessons or lectionaries (page 22); [3] ancient versions (page 22); and [4] quotations of Scripture from the church fathers (page 22). Nothing was to be omitted from this process. Copies alone were not considered complete!
In 1977, Nelson published, Wilbur Pickering wrote, and Zane Hodges approved, by his foreword, the following words:
‘So then, how are we to identify the original wording? First we must gather the available evidence--this will Include [1] Greek mss. [2] (including lectionaries), [3] Fathers, and [4] versions. Then we must evaluate the evidence to ascertain which form of the text enjoys the earliest, the fullest, the widest, the most respectable, the most varied attestation’ (Identity of the New Testament Text, op. cit., 1977 edition, page 137).
What caused the change of mind?
What was left behind by the absolute omission of [1] ancient versions, [2] church fathers, and [3] lectionaries?
For the ancient versions, Hodges has left behind all the early translations from the Greek language made at a primitive time and later. For the Church Fathers, Hodges has left behind all 89,489 quotations or allusions to the New Testament made by them, as catalogued by Dean Burgon in his 16 folio volumes in the British Museum [Cf. Pickering, Identity of the New Testament Text, 1977 edition, page 66).
For the lectionaries, he has left behind all 2,143 of them which have a direct bearing on the text of the Greek New Testament.
For Hodges and Pickering, who both profess to follow the Dean Burgon approach to New Testament Criticism, this threefold elimination of vital evidence Is, In my candid opinion, high treason to the Burgon cause! (D.A. Waite, Defects in the So-called "Majority Greek Text, pp. 8-10).

New King James Version

Hodges served on the King James Version committee only for the revision of 1984.



  • The Hungry Inherit (1972; 2nd ed. 1980; 3rd ed. 1997)
  • The Gospel under Siege (1981; 2nd. ed. 1992)
  • Here Walks My Enemy (1982)
  • The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text with Apparatus (1982; 2nd ed. 1985), with Arthur L. Farstad
  • Grace in Eclipse (1985; 2nd ed. 1987; 3rd ed. 2007)
  • Absolutely Free! (1989; 2nd ed. 2014)
  • The NIV Reconsidered (1990), with Earl Radmacher
  • The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament with Arthur L. Farstad (1993)
  • The Epistle of James: Proven Character through Testing (1994)
  • Power to Make War (1995)
  • The Epistles of John (1999)
  • Harmony with God: A Fresh Look at Repentance (2001)
  • Six Secrets of the Christian Life (2004)
  • A Free Grace Primer: The Hungry Inherit, The Gospel under Siege, Grace in Eclipse (2011)
  • Romans: Deliverance from Wrath (2013)
  • The Atonement and Other Writings (2014)

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