Illustrating Why Verses Dropped Out of Newer Translations

A few years ago I did a number of posts on translations and manuscripts that generated a lengthy discussion. Occassionally I still get comments on a number of those posts. One recent comment came from Chris who wrote this,

“Plus the NIV comes from Textus sinaiticus….And the KJV comes from Textus Receptus
So I pose another question….do you think GOD would of let his people for hundreds of years have and generations of people just to magically say in the 1800’s you know..now I’ll give them the good stuff….If you truly desire a relationship with JESUS which is what it should be about..make sure you know him and he knows you..the last thing anyone should want to hear from Christ is I never knew you…you worker of iniquity…make sure you know Jesus, he wants to know you”

I asked Chris if I could use his comment in a new post and he agreed. So let’s say that instead of commenting on my blog, Chris wrote this by hand and mailed it to me. Upon receiving his comment I am struck by just how profound it…so I do what any reasonable person would have done 2000 years ago to preserve such important information…I copy it by hand and pass it on to others. Maybe I make a few copies and give them out. Those who I give copies to are likewise struck by the profundity of his comment and they copy my copy.

In the ancient world paper wasn’t readily bought at the store. So if you had something you really needed copied you might copy it on the back of any paper you could get your hands on. What is more, as this gets copied and copied and copied, one of the copiers ads a note in the margin that the next copiest thinks was from the original and adds it into the text and so instead of a perfect copy you end up with some fairly predictable errors, ommissions and additions to the original text. Once the original text is ravaged by the passing of time or inadvertently destroyed or used to write something else on we don’t have the autograph to compare it to. All we have are other copies to compare it to in order to try to figure out what the original said.

So let’s use his comment as an example of how hand written texts can change over time. Instead of this,

“Plus the NIV comes from Textus sinaiticus….And the KJV comes from Textus Receptus
So I pose another question….do you think GOD would of let his people for hundreds of years have and generations of people just to magically say in the 1800’s you know..now I’ll give them the good stuff….If you truly desire a relationship with JESUS which is what it should be about..make sure you know him and he knows you..the last thing anyone should want to hear from Christ is I never knew you…you worker of iniquity…make sure you know Jesus, he wants to know you”

We get this,

“Plus the TNIV comes from Textus sinaiticus….And the NKJV comes from Textus Receptus
So I pose another question….do you think GOD would of let his people for hundreds and thousands of years have and generations of people just to magically say in the 1800’s you know..now I’ll give them the good stuff….If you truly desire a relationship with JESUS which is what it should be about..make sure you know him and he knows you..the last thing anyone should want to hear from Christ is I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers…you that work iniquity…make sure you know Jesus, he wants to know you”

Now let’s say that for whatever reason this version of the original gets copied more than the rest and let’s say this is the only version those who are working on numbering the lines and translating this have this version (remember, the original is no more). So now this version has become the standard.

But then one day older versions are discovered. They say NIV rather than the TNIV and KJV instead of NKJV. They omit the words “and thousands” and we also discover that somewhere along the line a copiest had ironed out the Matt 7:23 quotation to find that the original didn’t exactly quote it but paraphrased the KJV in the last phrase. So now you have something far more in line with the original if not verbatim. What you also discover is that to get it back in line with the original several words have to be deleted and other words edited.

All of that to say, the NIV or whatever modern translation they are picking on, must be wrong because it omits things have no concept of how manuscripts are copied, amended, etc. It is entirely possible that deleted certain verses gets us more in line with the originals, all the while causing ire amongst some for the modern translations being careless with the word of God, even deleting verses! If you delete what wasn’t there you get more accurate, not less.

9 Responses to Illustrating Why Verses Dropped Out of Newer Translations

  1. David Himes says:

    Here is an even larger problem to consider — if you read the entire Text of the NT, there is nothing there to suggest that we should be using the Text the way we use it.

  2. James says:

    Matt, All this sounds very Logical. Thank you for your good work. It goes along with a Chinese fortune cookie slip I got a few months ago and have been saving. “Anything you add to the truth, subtracts from the truth”. But footnotes can be very helpful. Be Blessed….Jim

  3. James says:

    Matt, I have a question for you. Do you think that the addition and subsequent removal of the final verses in Mark does anything to limit the fuller reserection stories that we get from other gospels? Ive read that none of the gospels were actually written down during the lifetimes of those credited with them. The oral histories were finally written down in 60ad (Mark) and maybe a hundred years later for the other gospels. Does your research verify this? And based on the methodology of adding and removing additional information (ie. the telephone game) , duplication within different gospels just kind of comes with the territory. This is all one big question to me, and I trust by your research and careful articulation that you would have an opinion on this. Be Blessed …. Jim

    • Profile photo of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      I take a more conservative line on the dating of the Gospels. John may have been a touch later but I am thinking more in the 60s for the Synoptics. Mark was probably first and then people differ on Matthew and Luke. What I find in some instances are people who date the Gospels based on their problem with predictive prophesy. If something is clearly predictive of the fall of Jerusalem, then they want to date it after the fall. I have a problem with that line of thinking.

      Oral tradition certainly played a role for some time. Take Mark, who tradition says received the Gospel from Peter (certainly from Paul as well but Peter as far as first hand accounts go with Paul coming after Jesus’ resurrection). So these teachings were passed along orally for some time.

      As far as the ending of Mark goes, everything said in those extra verses is given to us either in the other gospels or in Acts by way of fulfillment of those words. I can’t think of anything unique that hinges on those verses. I do believe they are a later addition.

      • James says:

        Thank You Matt, for a clear answer to my question. Why then, do you suppose that Peter did not include in his gospel, certain events that he surely witnessed? I wish there was more details of the assention in the gospels. Certain events seem to have such a fullness to them in memory, and some things seem to be so sketchy. Lots of details of John baptising Jesus, or the sermon on the mount, yet few details on his assention or things that happened after his resurrection, although I understand it was witnessed by many. Just as I have a hard time remembering chapters and verse, so must have the folks using oral history, with no chapter and verse. I accept the little differences that human memory may or may not include. So in spite of being divinely influenced, the human hand and mind were still involved. So I can appreciate your continued presentation which includes the human factor.

        Here is a quote from the book, “Peace of Mind”. I don’t recall the author, but he was a Jewish guy. ” Everything God made has a crack in it”. It was a book I found on my fathers shelf after he died. I would use the quote occasionally in forgiving musical mistakes members of my handbell choir made when they seemed especially concerned or apologetic. I hoped I was giving them peace of mind, but some other members would take offense at this and declare Gods work to be perfect. This occasionally stimulated some discussion on the topic, similar to the type that you field so patiently in these threads. I very much agree with your main point, keeping our eyes on the prize, and not to get lost in the weeds. Thank you for your loving attention to civil discourse. Be Blessed. Jim

        • mattdabbs says:

          Thank you Jim. On the Peter question there are a lot of variables that load into that. Did Peter pass the stories on to John Mark? If so, why did John Mark tell the ones he told and not others? These are questions the text just doesn’t give us answers to. It is like wanting to know what Abraham was thinking when he went up the mountain with Isaac…we can guess but the text wasn’t interested in telling us that!

  4. Mark says:

    What all was Isaac told and what went through his head? If just one Verse or paragraph were the only reason someone came to faith, then I would be surprised.

    We must also remember that the entire canon was not always available. Sometimes I wonder if that was a good thing. A scroll of one of the prophets would have foretold of one who would come. Just one of the gospels would have sufficed to tell the story of Jesus. One letter from Paul would have worked for leading a congregation.

    • James says:

      I’m supposing that he took seriously that your relationship with God comes before earthly relationships, even family. That is a tough one, but I get it. . . . . God asksll us to forsake earthly connections as secondary, and as difficult as the camel through the eye of a needle. Jim

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