A Text-Critical Comparison of the King James New Testament with Certain Modern Translations
With 2011 marking the 400th anniversary of the first edition
of the King James Version (KJV), much has been written in celebration of this
remarkable Bible that has had such a profound impact on Western society.1 It seems especially fitting, however, to reconsider the venerable KJV from the
perspective of biblical studies. Toward that end, I wish to explore how the New
Testament (NT) text of the KJV and certain modern versions differ. My aim is
not to examine translational differences but, rather, to identify and evaluate
the text-critical differences between them.2
To illustrate what I mean by "text-critical"
differences, let’s consider Mark 7:16, which in the KJV reads, "If any man
have ears to hear, let him hear." If we turn to this verse in one of the many
modern English versions, chances are that we will see nothing but the verse
number and a dash. In fact, in most modern translations of the NT, this verse
does not exist. Some might assume that the verse was deliberately suppressed,3 but the reason for this omission is not that sinister. Rather, the reason is
that many ancient Greek manuscripts have no equivalent of Mark 7:16 but skip
from verse 15 to verse 17.4 Thus the Greek subtext of a particular NT version can have a significant impact
on the English rendering of the text.
This study will examine twenty-two NT passages that appear
in the KJV but are omitted in most modern translations. In evaluating whether
the KJV readings for select verses can be defended by ancient manuscript
evidence or ought to be rejected as later interpolations, I do not intend this
study to be either an apology for the KJV or an indictment of its NT text.
While the KJV NT text has come under increasing scholarly criticism over the
past century for certain readings that cannot be considered authentic or
original, I will show that it also contains readings that, though omitted in
various modern translations, are likely to be authentic. In setting forth and
clarifying the text-critical differences between the KJV NT and modern editions,
I simply hope to inform readers of the KJV NT about its text-critical strengths
as well as its weaknesses.
When King James I of England decided to sponsor a new Bible
translation at the Hampton Court Conference in January 1604, one of the first
stipulations he made was that the translation would be based not on the Latin
Vulgate but on original-language manuscripts—Hebrew for the
Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament: "A translation be made of
the whole Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek; and
this is to be set out and printed, without any marginal notes, and only to be
used in all churches of England in time of divine service." 6 The Greek text that the translators settled on was from an edition of the NT
published in 1589 by the French Calvinist Theodore de Beza (1519–1605).7 Beza’s Greek NT text was based largely on the 1522 Greek NT text published by
the famous Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536).8 Because Erasmus’s edition, which would come to be known as the "Received
Text" (Lat. Textus Receptus), is the Greek textual basis for the
KJV NT, it is worth examination.9
After the invention of the printing press in the
mid–fifteenth century, the first book to be widely printed was the Bible,
specifically the Latin Vulgate used by the Roman Catholic Church. Half a
century later, an enterprising printer named Johannes Froben from Basel,
Switzerland, approached Erasmus in the summer of 1514 about preparing a Greek
edition of the NT for publication. After some delays and additional goading,
Erasmus finally agreed to the project, and in the following summer he began the
work of putting together a Greek New Testament in Basel. The only Greek
manuscripts available in Basel were in the Dominican Library, and not one of
those seven different manuscripts predated the twelfth century.10 To save time, he simply submitted two of these manuscripts to Froben for
publication (one that contained the Gospels and another that contained Acts
through Revelation) with corrections written between the lines or in the
margins.11 Remarkably, by the following spring (1516), Erasmus’s first edition of the
Greek NT was published. Though it would undergo four subsequent re-editions
(1519, 1522, 1527, 1535), because it was the first Greek NT to be printed and
widely circulated, Erasmus’s text became the "Received Text" of the
NT for many centuries.
During the past century, the KJV NT has come under
increasing criticism because of the limited textual basis behind its
translation. As two notable critics of the KJV NT text have stated:
It [i.e., the Textus Receptus] lies at the basis
of the King James Version and of all principal Protestant translations in the
languages of Europe prior to 1881. So superstitious has been the reverence
accorded the Textus Receptus that in some cases attempts to criticize or emend
it have been regarded as akin to sacrilege. Yet its textual basis is
essentially a handful of late and haphazardly collected minuscule manuscripts, and
in a dozen passages its reading is supported by no known Greek witness.12
At the heart of this criticism lies the fact that since
the publication of Erasmus’s Greek NT in 1516 a number of much older—and
by implication more reliable—NT manuscripts have been discovered. Some of
these predate the Greek manuscripts employed by Erasmus by more than one
thousand years. For example, complete copies of the Greek NT have been
discovered that date to the fourth century, complete copies of certain NT books
to the late second century, and fragments of certain NT books to the early or
mid–second century.13 Significantly, sometimes these newly discovered texts contain readings that
differ markedly from those found in the Textus Receptus and hence the KJV.14 Since these textual variants appear in manuscripts, or fragments of
manuscripts, that are rather early, it is often thought that they more
accurately reflect original NT readings. As a result, many modern editions of
the NT have incorporated these "newer" readings into their
translations. However, the appearance of a textual variant in an ancient
manuscript is no guarantee that it represents the original text or that the
reading must be preferred to an alternative
reading found in a later manuscript. A number of other factors have to be
considered, as I hope to demonstrate later in this study.
What follows is an
overview of the most important ancient manuscripts used in contemporary
scholarship for establishing the earliest text of the NT. I will refer to these
in the course of my analysis of the KJV NT passages that are often omitted in
modern translations of the NT.
Various Egyptian papyri
from the second through sixth centuries AD supplement our knowledge of the NT
text by preserving the earliest attestations of certain NT passages. To date
there are about 125 known NT papyrus fragments (numbered 𝔓1, 𝔓2, 𝔓3, 𝔓4,
etc.) that range in length from a verse or two to entire codices containing NT
books. These fragments can predate the oldest ancient Bibles by as much as
200–250 years. Notable fragments include 𝔓52,
a small fragment containing John 18:31–33 on one side and 18:37–38
on the other and possibly dating to the first quarter of the second century AD (the
earliest-known NT text);15 𝔓46, dating to about AD 200 and containing many of
Paul’s letters;16 and 𝔓66, a virtually complete codex of John’s gospel
dating to the late second or early third century AD.17
The fourth-century Codex
Sinaiticus contains complete copies of every book in the NT as well as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, and
the Septuagint (LXX).19 It could even potentially be one of the fifty Bibles commissioned by
Constantine in the year AD 331 and produced under the direction of Eusebius of
Caesarea.20 This Bible, written with four Greek columns per page, was discovered in the
1850s at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai by Constantin von Tischendorf,
who took it back with him to St. Petersburg. In 1933 this codex was purchased
by the British government for ₤100,000 and is presently housed in the British
Codex Vaticanus (B)
This Bible from the fourth century contains complete copies
of all the books in the NT except part of the Epistle to the Hebrews (chaps.
9–13), all of the pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), and Revelation.
Like Codex Sinaiticus, it may have been one of the fifty Bibles commissioned by
Constantine. It also may have been one of the copies prepared for the emperor
Constans by Athanasius during his exile at Rome about AD 341.21 Called the Codex Vaticanus because it resides in the Vatican Library, this
Bible is written in capital Greek letters (uncial script) and is laid out with
three columns of text per page.
Codex Alexandrinus (A)
This fifth-century codex
contains every NT book except portions of Matthew (chaps. 1–24), John
(chaps. 6–8), and 2 Corinthians (chaps. 4–12). It also
includes 1 and 2 Clement as well as the majority of the Septuagint. Called
the Codex Alexandrinus because its earliest-known location was the city of
Alexandria in Egypt, it is written with capital Greek letters and is laid out
with two columns per page. Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Alexandria during the
early part of the seventeenth century, sent this Bible as a gift to King James
I of England. Because King James died (in March 1625) before it arrived, it was
instead presented to his successor, Charles I, in 1627. Today it is housed in
the British Library.
Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C)
In the twelfth century,
this fifth-century codex was erased and reused for some thirty-eight hymns of
Ephraem.22 Its 209 folia, or leaves (145 of which belong to the NT), contain both the
Septuagint and the NT, though damaged portions of this ancient Bible are
riddled with lacunae.23 It is written with capital Greek letters and is laid out with one broad
column per page. This important biblical codex is presently housed in the
Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
Codex Freerianus (W)
Codex Freerianus is a fifth-century codex that contains a
copy of the four Gospels written on 187 folia and ordered as follows: Matthew,
John, Luke, and Mark. While it contains Matthew and Luke in their entirety with
relatively few lacunae, large sections in Mark (part of chap. 15) and John
(part of chaps. 14–16) are missing because of damage. Written in Greek
uncial script in a single column per page, this manuscript was obtained in 1906
by Charles Lang Freer, a wealthy American railroad-car manufacturer from
Detroit, via an antiquities dealer in Egypt. It is housed in the Freer Gallery
of Art as part of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and is sometimes referred
to as the Freer Codex or Codex Washingtonianus.
Codex Bezae (D)
This fifth- or sixth-century codex contains many NT books,
but owing to damage, many sections are missing.24 As in the Codex Freerianus (W), the order of the four Gospels is Matthew,
John, Luke, and Mark. In various places this Bible contains unique readings
that are not attested elsewhere, though many of them probably represent later
interpolations. This ancient Bible is a Greek and Latin diglot, meaning that it
contains Greek text in a single column on the left-hand page and Latin text in
a single column on the right-hand page. It is called Codex Bezae because it
once belonged to Theodore Beza, who donated it in 1581 to Cambridge University,
where it still resides.
Testamentum Graece (NA27)
This Greek version of the NT is the standard critical
edition used in contemporary scholarship. In 1898 Eberhard Nestle
(1851–1913) assembled a Greek text of the NT based on previous editions.
Over the last century this version was constantly updated and revised,
and in 1993 the twenty-seventh edition was produced (designated NA27), primarily under the direction and editorship of Kurt
Aland (1915–1994). The text is edited and produced by the Institut für
neutestamentliche Textforschung (Institute for New Testament Textual Research)
at the University of Münster. The Greek text of NA27 is known as an "eclectic text" since it is
based on readings from a wide array of ancient manuscripts and does not
represent a single manuscript.25
1. Matthew 12:47 KJV 27
Then one said unto him, Behold,
εἶπε δέ τις
This verse forms the middle section of a narrative unit
(Matthew 12:46–50) in which Jesus tells those listening that "whosoever
shall do the will of my Father" are "my brother, and sister, and
mother" (v. 50). This verse is omitted in some modern translations (ESV,
RSV) but present in others (CEV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, TEV).28 This is because it is not found in certain ancient manuscripts, such as Codex
Sinaiticus (א) and Codex Vaticanus (B), yet is attested in
Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), Codex Freerianus (W), and Codex Bezae
(D); a later corrector added it to Codex Sinaiticus א) 29∗). Though the NRSV and NIV include this verse, a footnote placed after it briefly
explains its omission in select ancient witnesses.
While this verse is not attested in the most ancient
manuscripts, it may have originally been part of Matthew’s gospel but then was
accidently omitted through homoioteleuton.30 Since both Matthew 12:46 and Matthew 12:47 end with λαλῆσαι ("to speak"), it is conceivable that after a scribe finished writing
verse 46, he looked back at his exemplar only to have his eye skip to the end
of verse 47, causing him to inadvertently omit that verse. Furthermore, because
verse 47 seems necessary for the following verses to make sense, it is likely
an authentic verse and not a later scribal interpolation. Interestingly, when
this story is told in Mark 3:31–35, verse 32 (the equivalent of Matthew
12:47) is securely attested in the manuscript tradition.
Though it might be tempting to suppose that some modern NT
translations have omitted this verse in an attempt to propagate or defend the
doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary 31 and to obfuscate the fact that Jesus had any biological siblings, it is already
evident from verse 46, as well as from the corresponding Markan account (Mark
3:31–35), that Jesus had "brethren" in the biological sense.
The omission of Matthew 12:47 in modern translations has far more to do with
its absence in certain ancient manuscripts than with any doctrinal issue.
2. Matthew 17:21 KJV
Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and
Matthew 17:21 concludes a narrative unit (vv. 14–21)
in which Jesus expels a demon from a boy after the disciples fail to do so and
are then chided by Jesus for lacking the necessary faith to perform the
exorcism (v. 20). In the KJV, verse 21 ostensibly clarifies further why the
disciples were unsuccessful. In most modern NT translations, this verse is
omitted (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) because it is
not found in either Codex Sinaiticusא) 32) or Codex Vaticanus (B).33 It is present in Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), Codex Freerianus (W), and
Codex Bezae (D). The verse’s omission in the two earliest manuscripts is
relatively strong evidence against its authenticity, notwithstanding its
inclusion in later manuscripts. Without a plausible explanation to the
contrary,34 it would seem that the verse is not original to Matthew.
This verse may represent a deliberate addition to Matthew by
a later scribe who assimilated it from the same account in Mark 9:14–29.
Mark 9:29 reads, "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by
nothing, but by prayer and fasting." 35 Thus
there is reason to suspect that Matthew 17:21 was added in select manuscripts
to deliberately harmonize the accounts in Mark and Matthew. Indeed,
verse 21 is somewhat intrusive and foreign to the narrative block (vv.
14–20) that naturally ends with verse 20, where Jesus straightforwardly
makes the point that the disciples lacked the necessary faith to cast out the
3. Matthew 18:11 KJV
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
ἦλθε γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.
In the KJV this verse serves as the effective beginning of
the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:11–14), but it is omitted in a
number of modern translations (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB,
RSV, TEV) because it does not occur in either Codex Sinaiticus (א) or Codex Vaticanus (B).36 Moreover, the church fathers Origen (ca. AD 185–254) and Eusebius of
Caesarea (ca. AD 260–340) show no awareness of this verse in their
commentaries.37 Interestingly, Luke’s version of the parable of the lost sheep (15:4–6),
which is somewhat similar to Matthew’s rendering, does not include the
equivalent of Matthew 18:11. However, this verse does appear in both Codex Freerianus (W) and Codex Bezae (D).
Given that this verse is unknown in any manuscript before
the fifth century, is absent from the two most important NT manuscripts, and
was apparently unknown to both Origen and Eusebius, it seems fairly certain
that it was a later interpolation and thus is not authentic to Matthew. Because
Luke 19:10 shares a number of distinct parallels with Matthew 18:11, it is
possible that at some point a scribe inserted the verse into Matthew’s account
to provide a connection between verse 10 (the end of a short discourse on temptations
and sin, vv. 6–9) and verses 12–14 (the parable of the lost sheep).38 Luke 19:10 concludes the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus (vv. 1–10) and
reads, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was
lost." With the exception of two words (ζητῆσαι καὶ,
"to seek and"), Luke 19:10 shares an exact verbal overlap with
Matthew 18:11.39 Because verse 11 talks about saving "that which was lost," it is easy
to see why some scribe or copyist might have been inclined to insert it into
Matthew, for it provides a nice segue into the parable of the lost sheep, which
would otherwise have a seeming semantic gap between verses 10 and 12.
4. Matthew 21:44 KJV
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken:
This verse occurs in the concluding section of the parable
of the wicked tenants (Matthew 21:33–46). Verse 44 is spoken by Jesus to
the chief priests and Pharisees to clarify his quotation of Psalm 118:22 in
verse 42: "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the
head of the corner." In a number of modern Bible versions, this verse is
either completely omitted (NJB, RSV, TEV) or included with an explanatory
footnote (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NLT, NWT, NRSV, REB) because it is absent from
certain ancient manuscripts, most notably Codex Bezae (D). Additionally, with
the publication of 𝔓104, a second-century papyrus fragment that contains
Matthew 21:34–37 on one side and the remains of some subsequent verses on
the other side (vv. 43 and 45?), it has been tentatively asserted that verse 44
seems to be absent and that the text skips from verse 43 to verse 45.40 If this fragment could serve as evidence for the omission of verse 44, it would
be very significant given its early date. Yet the text on the back side is so
effaced and illegible as to preclude determination either way.41 On the other hand, the verse is attested in both Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex
as well as in Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C) and Codex Freerianus (W).
Given the nature of the evidence, it is difficult to
determine with much certainty whether verse 44 is a later interpolation or is
actually authentic. Those who argue the former assert that the verse was
borrowed from Luke 20:18 to more fully harmonize Matthew’s telling of the
parable with Luke’s account (20:9–18):42 "Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever
it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (v. 18).43 However, while the two verses certainly share similarities, they begin
differently and their placement is different. In Luke, verse 18 immediately
follows Jesus’s citation of Psalm 118:22, whereas Matthew has an intervening
verse (v. 43) in which Jesus declares that the "kingdom of God" shall
be given to another nation. If Matthew 21:44 is a case of scribal
harmonization, why was the verse not inserted right after verse 42 so that it
would be exactly parallel with Luke?
If, on the other hand, the verse is original to Matthew,
then it could have been lost from certain manuscripts as a result of a scribal
slip. Bruce Metzger has raised the possibility that if verse 44 is original to
Matthew, it could have been accidently omitted in some manuscripts as a result
In verse 43 the last word is αὐτῆς ("of it"), and in verse 44 the last word is αὐτόν ("it").44 A scribe could have finished writing verse 43, looked back to his exemplar, and
inadvertently skipped ahead to the end of verse 44, thus omitting this verse.45 In light of the ancient manuscript evidence, especially the fact that verse 44
is attested in both Codex Sinaiticus (א) and
Codex Vaticanus (B), the case for authenticity is reasonable. All the same, if
the back side of 𝔓104 can
ever be convincingly read and verse 44 is indeed omitted, this would be strong
evidence that Matthew 21:44 is likely a later interpolation.
5. Matthew 23:14 KJV
Woe unto you, scribes and Phari-
οὐαὶ ὑµῖν, γραµµατεῖς καὶ
In Matthew 23, verse 14 functions as one of a number of "woes"
pronounced by Jesus against the scribes and Pharisees at the Temple Mount
(Matthew 23:1–36). This verse is omitted in most modern translations of
the NT (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NWT, NRSV, REB, RSV, TEV) since it does
not appear in any of the most important ancient manuscripts, namely, Codex
Codex Vaticanus (B), or Codex Bezae (D).46 This verse is first attested in Codex Freerianus (W), where it is placed before
While a scribal slip due to homoioarcton is
conceivable, since verses 13, 15, and 16 all begin with the word woe (οὐαὶ)
and a scribe could have overlooked verse 14 because it too begins with woe,
this seems unlikely because of the early and widespread absence of the verse in
a number of different manuscripts. It is highly unlikely that multiple scribes
working independently of one another all accidentally skipped the very same
verse. A more plausible explanation is that verse 14 is an interpolation
derived from either Mark or Luke, where remarkably similar sayings are directed
specifically against the scribes:47 "which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these
shall receive greater damnation" (Mark 12:40); "which devour widows’
houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater
damnation" (Luke 20:47).48 That Matthew 23:14 is an interpolation is further evidenced by that fact it
appears in relatively late manuscripts in different places within Matthew 23,
either before or after verse 13.49 Here it is worthy of note that even though the Textus Receptus put
this verse before verse 13, the KJV (as well as the NKJV) moved this verse to
its present location after verse 13.
6. Mark 7:16 KJV
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
εἴ τις ἔχει ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω.
This verse comes from the middle section of Jesus’s rather
extended discourse against the "traditions of the elders" among the
Pharisees (Mark 7:1–23). Prompted by the Pharisees finding fault with
Jesus’s disciples for partaking of food without first washing their hands (vv.
1–5), this discourse may be divided into two sections: verses 6–15,
in which Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, and verses
17–23, in which the disciples question Jesus about what he had said to
the Pharisees. Thus, verse 16 acts as a mediating verse between the two
sections. Most modern NT translations (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB,
RSV, TEV) omit this verse since it does not appear in either Codex Sinaiticus (א) or Codex Vaticanus (B). It does, however,
appear in later manuscripts, namely, Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Freerianus
(W), and Codex Bezae (D).50
The context of verse 16 would not appear to have facilitated
the loss of the verse through scribal error. Similarly, since verse 16 has no
apparent theological implications and since elsewhere in the Gospel of Mark the
very same saying is attested (at 4:9 and 4:23), one cannot easily suppose that
this verse was deliberately expunged. A more likely explanation is that it was
inserted to provide a sequel to verse 15 and to bridge the two sections that
comprise Jesus’s discourse. One commentator has noted about the verse: "It
appears to be a comment by a copyist (taken from 4.9 or 4.23), introduced as an
appropriate comment coming after v. 14." 51
7. Mark 9:44 KJV
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not
ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ
Mark 9:4452 forms part of a narrative unit in which Jesus admonishes his followers that it
is better to cut off any offending body parts (i.e., hand, foot, eye) and be
maimed (metaphorically speaking) than to be cast into hell on account of those
offenses (Mark 9:42–50). Within this context, verse 44 vividly reinforces
the consequences of sin that are associated with the torments of hell
(vv. 43, 45, 47, lit. Gehenna). This verse is omitted in most modern NT translations
(CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) because it is not
attested in the two oldest manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus (א) and Codex Vaticanus (B). Similarly, it is
omitted in Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C) and Codex Freerianus (W). On the other hand, this verse is attested in Codex
Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Bezae (D).
The omission of this verse
is not crucial in terms of meaning because the very same saying appears in
verse 48, which is otherwise securely attested in the ancient manuscript
tradition: "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
It is possible that a scribe or copyist added verse 44 in order to balance out
this narrative unit by reemphasizing the punishments awaiting those who sin.
Indeed, each time Jesus speaks of cutting off a body part, his warning is
reinforced with a reference to the torments of hell—specifically worms
and fire—for greater effect. This repetition, or epistrophe, was a
well-known literary trope in antiquity used for effect and balance. Because
Jesus does not employ this kind of repetition anywhere else in Mark, its
presence here supports the argument that it was added by a scribe. All the
same, the fact that epistrophe does not occur elsewhere in Mark does not
preclude the possibility that it is used in Mark 9:44. In any case, the nature
of the manuscript evidence strongly suggests that verse 44 was a later
interpolation based on verse 48.
8. Mark 9:46
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not
See notes on Mark 9:44 in
no. 7 above.
9. Mark 11:26
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father
εἰ δὲ ὑµεῖς οὖκ ἀφίετε, οὐδὲ ὁ
Mark 11:26 forms part of a
narrative unit in which Jesus instructs his disciples on the meaning of a
withered fig tree and teaches about the principle of faith (vv. 20–26).
Previously in the chapter (one day
earlier) Jesus had cursed this very fig tree on his way to Jerusalem
because it did not have any figs (vv. 12–14). The very next day, on a
return trip to Jerusalem, Peter notices that the fig tree is now completely
withered, which prompts Jesus to give the discourse of which Mark 11:26 is the
concluding verse. In most modern translations of the New Testament (CEV, ESV,
NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV), this verse is omitted since it
does not appear in Codex Sinaiticus (א), Codex Vaticanus (B), or Codex Freerianus (W).
It does, however, appear in Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C), and Codex Bezae (D).
Although a case could be
made for omission due to homoioteleuton, since both verses 25 and 26 end with ὑµῶν ("your"), the absence of verse 26 in a
number of different codices makes that scenario somewhat unlikely, as one would
have to assume that multiple scribes working independently all made the very
same error. A more plausible explanation, as Erasmus already pointed out in his
notes on the NT (see below), is that this verse was added at some point in
imitation of Matthew 6:15, where Jesus gives instruction concerning prayer (following
the Lord’s Prayer, vv. 9–13): "But if ye forgive not men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." In Mark
11:24–25 Jesus talks about prayer and the necessity of forgiveness,
especially the necessity of forgiving an offender so that God might forgive the
offended person’s trespasses in his prayerful petition. Because verse 26 is
remarkably similar to verse 25—so close, in fact, that it runs the risk
of being redundant—it may have been added later for emphasis and thus should
really be seen as an expansion of verse 25. As the narrative unit currently
stands (vv. 20–26), this verse can be omitted with no apparent impact on
the overall meaning of the pericope.
Erasmus’s notes on this verse: "’But if you should
not forgive.’ In most Greek manuscripts [lit. books] these things are not added
[i.e., present]. Theophylact 53 neither reads nor interprets. It seems possible that this has been inserted
from Matthew 6." 54
10. Mark 15:28 KJV
And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he
καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα, καὶ µετὰ ἀνόµων ἐλογίσθη.
This verse is part of the narrative unit that comprises Mark’s
crucifixion narrative in verses 21–32. Mark 15:28, which is a quotation
from Isaiah 53:12b, appears right after the report that Jesus was crucified
between two thieves (v. 27). In virtually every modern NT translation, this
verse is omitted (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) since
it does not appear in any of the ancient manuscripts: Codex Sinaiticus (א), Codex
Vaticanus (B), Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Ephraem Syri Rescriptus (C), or
Codex Bezae (D).55 In fact, this verse does not appear in any NT manuscript until the end of the
sixth century.56 There is no reason why this verse should be absent from every major ancient
manuscript except that it was added at a much later date to Mark’s gospel. The
addition is almost certainly drawn from Luke 22:37, where at the last supper
Jesus foretells his crucifixion (quoting Isaiah 53:12b): "For I say unto
you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was
reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have
an end" (emphasis added). Beyond the textual data, which firmly indicates
that this verse was added, its authenticity may be further doubted since as a
general rule Mark (unlike Matthew and to a lesser extent John and Luke) rarely
quotes from the Old Testament.
11. Mark 16:9–20 KJV
9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of
These last twelve verses of Mark 57 contain Jesus’s postresurrection appearances to the disciples (vv. 9–14)
and a charge, which is accompanied by divine promises (vv. 17–18), to
take the gospel "to every creature" (v. 15). The final verse (v. 20)
then concludes with a summation of the apostles’ ministry: "And they went
forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the
word with signs following. Amen."
While these twelve verses are not omitted in any modern NT
edition, they are placed in either double brackets or italics with a note about
their absence in certain early manuscripts. Most notably, Mark 16:9–20
does not appear in Codex Vaticanus (B) or Codex Sinaiticus (א). It is also omitted in certain
Latin, Armenian, Georgian, and Ethiopic copies of the gospel.58 On the other hand, these verses are attested in Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex
Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), and Codex Bezae (D). Additionally, an unusual
variant (see below) of these verses is attested in Codex Freerianus (W).
The patristic literature on these verses is mixed; some
authors seem to have been aware of them in their copies of Mark while others
seem not to have known about them or were unsure of their authenticity. Noting
in his First
Apology (ca. AD 150) that the apostles "went forth and preached
everywhere," 59 Justin Martyr (ca. AD 100–165) uses language that is basically identical
to a phrase that otherwise only appears in the Gospels at Mark 16:20.60 Since this is a short verbal overlap, one cannot be certain that Justin is
referencing Mark 16:20. In any case, the first definite reference to one of the
final twelve verses in Mark comes from Irenaeus (ca. AD 130–200). In his
Heresies (ca. AD 180), he states, "But at the end of his
gospel, Mark says, ‘And then after the Lord Jesus spoke to them, he was
received up into heaven and sits on the right hand of God.’ " 61 Here Irenaeus is definitely referencing Mark 16:19 even though his wording does
not exactly agree with that in the Vulgate.62 One other second-century author that may have been aware of Mark 16:9–20
is Tatian (ca. AD 120–80). In his Diatessaron (ca. AD 150–60),
an edition of the four canonical Gospels in one continuous narrative, he
includes the final twelve verses of Mark. However, the problem with this
evidence is that the Diatessaron survives only in much later Latin and
Arabic versions that may not be accurate transcriptions of the original
While Justin, Irenaeus, and Tatian may have been aware of
Mark 16:9–20, other patristic writers such as Clement of Alexandria (ca. AD
150–215) and Origen likely were not aware of these verses because they
were absent in their copies of Mark.64 Eusebius of Caesarea, in response to a question from a friend named Marinus
about an alleged discrepancy between Matthew and Mark on the exact timing of
the resurrection,65 reports that the concluding verses of Mark (vv. 9–20) are likely spurious
and do not appear in the more "accurate" copies of the Gospel of
The solution to this might be twofold. For, on the one hand,
the one who rejects the passage itself [Mark 16:9–20], namely the
pericope which says this, might say that it does not appear in all the copies
of the Gospel according to Mark. At any rate, the accurate copies define the
end of the history [i.e., Gospel] according to Mark with the words of the young
man who appeared to the women and said to them, "Do not fear. You are
seeking Jesus the Nazarene" [Mark 16:6]. In addition to these, it says, "And
having heard this they fled, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were
afraid" [Mark 16:8]. For in this way the ending of the Gospel according to
Mark is defined in nearly all the copies. The things that follow [Mark
16:9–20] are in some but not in all of the copies and may be spurious;
this is particularly so because it is a contradiction to the witness of the
Later, Jerome (ca. AD 345–420) will basically
echo Eusebius’s comments and similarly remark that the concluding verses of
Mark were missing in most copies of the scriptures: "It [Mark
16:9–20] appears rarely in copies of the gospel [i.e.,
Mark]; almost all Greek copies do not have this pericope at the end." 67
If Eusebius is right, Mark’s gospel concludes at 16:8: "And
they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were
amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."
However, such an ending hardly seems fitting for a "gospel" (Mark
1:1) whose express purpose is to declare the "good news" of Jesus’s
resurrection. Even though from a text-critical standpoint Mark 16:8 is
currently the earliest attested ending for Mark’s gospel (appearing in Codex
Sinaiticus [א] and Codex Vaticanus [B]), its abruptness is
problematic, giving rise to various theories against its authenticity.
One widely held theory is that the original ending of Mark’s
gospel was lost very early and was subsequently copied and recopied without the
conclusion (hence Eusebius and Jerome could state that most copies of the
gospel did not have anything after Mark 16:8). Some have even speculated that
the ending was lost when an early manuscript containing the gospel lost its
final page.68 Proponents of this theory argue that Mark’s gospel has a tendency toward
narrative fulfillment—that is, whenever something about Jesus’s ministry
is promised or prophesied in the gospel, Mark tends to narrate its realization.69 For example, in Mark 7:29, when the Syrophoenecian woman comes to Jesus and
entreats him to heal her daughter and Jesus responds that "the devil is
gone out of thy daughter," Mark completes the story by narrating how the
woman went home and found her daughter healed (Mark 7:30). Later, in Mark 10:52a,
Jesus tells blind Bartimaeus, "Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."
Again, Mark demonstrates the fulfillment of Jesus’s words, narrating in 10:52b,
"And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." 70 However, there is one notable exception to this rule in Mark 14:28, where Jesus
promises the disciples, "But after that I am risen, I will go before you
into Galilee." This prophecy never has narrative fulfillment if one takes
Mark 16:8 as the concluding verse. Some commentators have therefore used Mark
14:28 as evidence that Mark did not originally intend to end his gospel at
The current ending for Mark’s gospel in the KJV, often
referred to as the "longer" ending, is widely attested in most later manuscripts.
While it is not without textual problems, and even some who argue that Mark
16:8 is not the original ending also reject it, it cannot be dismissed offhand
as inauthentic. If it is not the original ending to Mark, then at the very
least it probably contains some of the
characteristics of the original ending (i.e., postresurrection appearances and
a charge to spread the gospel).
The following ancient
endings for the Gospel of Mark are attested:
1. The Gospel of Mark ends
at Mark 16:8: "And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for
they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were
afraid." This ending is attested in both Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex
2. The "shorter" or
"intermediate" ending of Mark, as it is known, adds one verse after Mark 16:8 that reads: "But
they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told.
And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the
sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation." This ending is
first attested in Codex Regius (L) of the eighth century and Codex Athos (Ψ) of the eighth or ninth century.71
3. The "longer"
ending of Mark (16:9–20) is the one contained in the KJV and is widely
attested in many manuscripts, most notably Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex
Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), and Codex Bezae (D).
4. A variant of the "longer"
ending is attested in Codex Freerianus (W). After Mark 16:14 and before verse
15, this codex adds the following: "And they excused themselves, saying, ‘This
age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth
and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore
reveal your righteousness now’—thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ
replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but
other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered
over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, that they may
inherit the spiritual and imperishable glory of righteousness that is in
heaven.’ " 72
12. Luke 17:36 KJV
Two men shall be in
Luke 17:36 forms part of a narrative unit in which Jesus,
responding to the Pharisees, discourses on the future coming of the kingdom
(Luke 17:20–37). This passage shares a number of parallels with a section
of the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24:29–41. Verse 36 of Luke 17 is
excluded from almost every modern NT translation (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT,
NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) because it is absent in most ancient manuscripts:
Codex Sinaiticus (א),
Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Alexandrinus (A), and Codex Freerianus (W). The
verse is also absent from 𝔓75, a
third-century papyrus codex from Egypt that contains large blocks of Luke’s and
John’s gospels.73 While Codex Bezae (D) lacked the verse too, it was inserted by later
Although it is not impossible that verse 36 was accidently
dropped due to homoioteleuton, since verses 35 and 36 end with the
word ἀφεθήσεται ("will be left"), the cumulative evidence from
early manuscripts against the verse’s authenticity is overwhelming. The most
likely scenario is that at some point verse 36 was added to Luke 17 in light of
the very similar saying in Matthew 24:40 ("Then shall two be in the field;
the one shall be taken, and the other left"), although the scribe
harmonized it to the style of Luke 17:35.
It is noteworthy that Erasmus could not find this verse in
any of the Greek manuscripts he was consulting (see his notes below). While
this verse is not present in the Textus Receptus, it was included in
the KJV through the influence of the Latin Vulgate.74
Erasmus’s notes on this verse: "’Two men in the
field.’ This portion is not present in Luke among the Greek [manuscripts],
although the divine Ambrose 75 recollects fields. On the contrary, in the copy belonging to Paulinus there is
no mention except concerning the bed. Theophylact read just two, concerning the
bed and millstone; the third, concerning the field, seems to be taken from
Matthew, chapter 24."
13. Luke 22:43–44 KJV
43And there appeared an angel unto him
These two verses form part of Luke’s Gethsemane narrative in
which Jesus prays to God in great agony on the night before the crucifixion
(Luke 22:39–46).76 Although in the RSV verses 43 and 44 are omitted, they appear in the CEV, ESV,
NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, and TEV (sometimes in brackets to
highlight their dubious nature). These verses are absent from Codex Vaticanus
(B), Codex Alexandrinus (A), the third-century papyrus manuscript 𝔓75, and 𝔓69 (a
papyrus manuscript dating to the middle of the third century and containing
portions of Luke 20:41, 45–48, 58–61).77 Additionally, in some later manuscripts (post–eighth century) the two are
marked with asterisks or obeli to signify their questionable nature, and in
later manuscripts they have been placed after Matthew 26:39 or 26:45a,
indicating that they were not necessarily fixed in Luke.78 On the other hand, Luke 22:44 is attested in a fragmentary parchment codex that
contains portions of Matthew and Luke from Hermopolis Magna, in Upper Egypt,
that dates to the late third or early fourth century AD (0171 = PSI II 124).79 Likewise, a case should really be made that verses 43 and 44 are attested in
Codex Sinaiticus (א) since both א∗ and א2 give the verses, though א1 suppresses them.80 These verses are also included in Codex Bezae (D).
Given the disparate nature of the manuscript evidence, it is
difficult to determine whether or not these verses are original to Luke’s
narrative. Early patristic evidence suggests that the story of Jesus’s
suffering and bleeding in the Garden of Gethsemane (which appears only in Luke)
was known by a few early Christians. The most notable such witness is Justin
Martyr, who comments on these very verses in his Dialogue with Trypho (ca. AD 135), although he does not mention in which gospel they were contained:
"For in the memoirs [Gospels], which I say were drawn up by his apostles
and those who followed them, [it is written] that ‘His sweat fell down like drops of blood’ while he was praying, and saying, ‘[Father] if it be possible, let this cup pass.’ " 81 The phrase "His sweat fell down like drops
of blood" can only refer to Luke 22:44b.82 Thus Justin clearly was aware of this story, knew that it was in some "memoir"
(i.e., gospel), and is an early witness to the authenticity of these verses
(although not necessarily in Luke).
Irenaeus of Lyons is
another early witness to the suffering of Jesus in Gethsemane as described in
Luke 22:43–44. In a section of his Against
Heresies, in which he criticizes
Christian docetists who denied that Jesus actually assumed flesh and
experienced (as God) a fully human existence, he remarks that Jesus, among
other things (being hungry, weary, and pained), "sweated great drops of
blood." 83 This confirms that Irenaeus was aware of the
suffering in Gethsemane that is described only in Luke 22:43–44.
Interestingly, since all the examples of Jesus’s humanity in this section of
Irenaeus’s treatise are scriptural proof texts, it is evident that in using the
phrase "sweated great drops of blood," Irenaeus was not relying on
some oral story but was quoting a scriptural source.84
Another early Christian
writer who was aware of the Gethsemane account and definitively references it
is Hippolytus of Rome (ca. AD 170–236). In a fragmentary exegetical
commentary on Psalm 2, he states that Jesus "sweated under the agonies and
was strengthened by the angel." 85 Thus Hippolytus was aware of the tradition recorded in Luke 22:43–44, for both
references—"sweating under agonies" and being "strengthened
by an angel"—appear only in Luke’s gospel. Consequently, that
passage has a very ancient pedigree, even if it is not necessarily borne out by
the manuscript evidence.86
In his treatise On the Trinity (ca. AD 356–360),
Hilary of Poitiers (ca. AD 315–368) highlights the disparate nature of
the manuscript evidence with respect to Luke 22:43–44:
We must not ignore the
fact that in several manuscripts, both Latin and Greek, nothing is written of
the angel coming or of the bloody sweat. It is therefore ambiguous whether this
is an omission, where it is wanting, or an interpolation, where it is found
(for the disparity of the copies leaves the question uncertain to us); let not
the heretics flatter themselves that herein lies a confirmation of his
weakness, that he needed the help of an angel.87
In his polemical
work Against the Pelagians (ca. AD 415), Jerome expresses a similar sentiment about the ambiguous
manuscript evidence. Whereas Hilary notes the absence of support for Luke
22:43–44 in some biblical manuscripts, Jerome notes the opposite:
In some copies, Greek as
well as Latin, the following words are found written by Luke: "There
appeared to him an angel from heaven
strengthening him" (referring, undoubtedly, to the Lord, Savior). "And
falling into an agony, he prayed more earnestly. And his sweat became as drops
of blood running down to the ground." 88
The assumption that verses 43–44 were not originally
part of Luke’s gospel but are a later accretion raises a question about why
these verses were added. Yet no satisfactory answer (at least in my opinion)
has been forthcoming. While Metzger thinks the verses are not original to Luke,
he can only suggest that they were probably "added from an early source,
oral or written, of extra-canonical traditions concerning the life and passion
of Jesus." 89
On the other hand, with the assumption that the verses were
original but then omitted, there is at least one plausible reason to explain
their removal. Possible textual issues such as homoioteleuton or homoioarcton aside, I think these verses may have been deliberately removed because some
Christian scribe(s) or copyist(s) felt they were potentially embarrassing in
depicting what could be construed as a "weak" Jesus on the eve of his
death. In his detailed work The Death of the Messiah, Raymond Brown argues
this point, adding that a weak Jesus ostensibly contradicted Greco-Roman
expectations of courage and bravery before death.90 Interestingly, all ancient anti-Christian writers from the first four centuries
whose works are still extant criticized Jesus’s actions portrayed in Luke
22:42–45 because he appeared fearful of dying and did not show equanimity
or true philosophical courage in the face of death.91
The emperor Julian "the apostate" (ca. AD 331–363),
in his work Against
the Galileans (ca. AD 362), severely reproaches Jesus because of his
alleged weaknesses in Gethsemane as detailed in Luke 22:42–45:
Furthermore, Jesus prays in such language as would be used
by a pitiful wretch who cannot bear misfortune with serenity, and though he is
a god is reassured by an angel (Luke 22:43). And who told you, Luke, the story
of the angel, if indeed this ever happened? For those who were there when he
prayed could not see the angel, for they were asleep. Therefore when Jesus came
from his prayer he found them fallen asleep from their grief. He said: "Why
do you sleep? Arise and pray," and so forth. And then, "and while he
was yet speaking, behold a multitude and Judas went before them" (Luke
22:46–47). That is why John did not write about the angel, for neither
did he see it.92
From this brief extract it is clear that in Julian’s
estimation Jesus lacked the proper courage before death, and so Julian argues
that Jesus could not possibly have been "a god" as the "Galileans"
(i.e., Christians) declared.93
Almost a century earlier the neoplatonic philosopher
Porphyry (ca. AD 234–305), in his work Against the Christians (ca. AD 270),
similarly criticized Jesus’s actions and words in Gethsemane:
When [Jesus] himself agonizes in anticipation of his death,
he prays that his suffering might be eliminated (Luke 22:42; Matthew 26:39);
and he says to his companions: "Wait, pray, so that temptation may not
overcome you" (Luke 22:40, 46; Matthew
26:41). Surely these sayings are not worthy of a son of God, nor even a wise
man who despises death.94
Finally, Celsus (ca.
second century AD) composed an extended treatise against Christianity entitled True Doctrine (ca. AD 178),95 in which he too criticized Jesus’s actions and words in Gethsemane: "Why
then does he [Jesus] utter loud laments and wailings, and pray that he may
avoid the fear of death, saying something like this, ‘O Father, if this cup
could pass by me’?" (Luke 22:42; Matthew 26:39).96 Celsus continues his criticism of Jesus in Gethsemane with an accusation
against Christians generally that bears significantly on the status of Luke
After this he [Celsus]
says that some believers, as though from a drinking bout, go so far as to
oppose themselves and alter the original text of the gospel three or four or
several times over, and they change its character to enable them to deny
difficulties in face of criticism.97
here is that Celsus was aware that the Gethsemane account was being deleted or
altered in the Gospels because certain Christians felt it was potentially
embarrassing. This could explain why the account in Luke 22:43–44 has
such a disparate history in the manuscript record.
It has recently been
argued that this account of Gethsemane may have been dropped by certain
Christian groups, such as the Marcionites in their copy of the Gospel of Luke,
because it portrayed a side of Jesus that was not only too weak but also too
subordinate to the Father (the Demiurge to Marcionites).98 Similarly, since Arians will later argue from Luke 22:42–44 that Jesus
was not God but was a man with all the attendant human frailties, it may be
that some Christians simply preferred to expunge these verses that were already
somewhat dubious and were being used by heretics to advance their theological
arguments.99 Interestingly, as noted by Hilary of Poitiers above, whatever the true nature
of Luke 22:43–44, "let not the heretics flatter themselves that
herein lies a confirmation of his [Jesus’s]
weakness, that he needed the help of an angel."
While I am persuaded
that a compelling, albeit circumstantial, case can be made that Luke
22:43–44 was original but later deliberately omitted because it invited
criticism, not all scholars embrace this view. In particular, Bart Ehrman and
Mark Plunkett, in a full-length article devoted to Luke 22:43–44, argue
that these verses were not original to Luke but were later interpolations.100 Nevertheless, while they doubt the authenticity of these verses, they conclude
that it is not a straightforward matter: "No one argument yields a
definitive solution. Rather, the cumulative force of a group of arguments must
be assessed, and even then the critic is left with a probability-judgment." 101
14. Luke 23:17 KJV
For of necessity he must release one unto them at the
In the larger context of this verse, Pilate condemns Jesus
to crucifixion, in lieu of Barabbas, because of the cries of the "chief
priests" and "rulers of the people" (Luke 23:13–25).
Within this narrative unit, verse 17 is a parenthetical aside that explains to
the reader the Passover tradition of releasing a prisoner to the people. In most modern translations of the NT, this verse
is omitted (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) since it
does not appear in Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Alexandrinus (A), or 𝔓75.
The verse is attested in Codex Sinaiticus (א) and Codex Freerianus
(W).102 In Codex Bezae (D) it is transposed and placed after Luke 23:19.
While this verse could
have accidently dropped out as a result of homoioarcton—since verse 18 begins with ἀνέκραξαν ("they cried out")
and verse 17 begins with the visually similar ἀνάγκην ("necessity")—this
explanation cannot adequately explain its widespread omission in so many early
manuscripts. A more likely explanation is that this verse was added as a
scribal interpolation to help explain the crowd’s request that Pilate release
Barabbas in place of Jesus (v. 18) and that it was adapted from similar verses
elsewhere: "Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the
people a prisoner, whom they would" (Matthew 27:15); "Now at that feast he released unto
them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired" (Mark 15:6). Furthermore, the
smooth transition from Luke 23:16 to 23:18 would seem to suggest that verse 17
was a later addition.
15. John 5:4
For an angel went down at a certain season into the
This verse forms part of
the descriptive background to the account of Jesus healing a man at the pool of
Bethesda (John 5:1–18). The man is reported to have been infirm some
thirty-eight years before Jesus commanded him to take up his bed and walk (v.
8). This command provoked a controversy with "the Jews," who accused
Jesus of sanctioning work (bed carrying) on the Sabbath day (vv. 16–18).
As a preamble to this story, John describes the pool of Bethesda and reports
how crowds congregated around it "waiting for the moving of the water"
(v. 3). Verse 4 functions as an ostensible explanation for the "troubling"
of the water and its alleged therapeutic powers by claiming that it was the
work of an angel.
In most modern NT
translations, this verse is omitted (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT,
REB, RSV, TEV) because it is absent from the ancient manuscripts Codex
Sinaiticus (א), Codex
Vaticanus (B), Codex Freerianus (W), Codex Bezae (D), 𝔓75,
and 𝔓66.103 In Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), the passage
was not originally included but was later inserted by a corrector.
Additionally, in a number of later manuscripts this verse is marked by either
asterisks or obeli to signify its questionable nature.104 By the ninth century this verse had appeared in most Greek manuscripts.
Greek patristic texts
offer very little evidence for John 5:4 until the later part of the fourth
century.105 But, for example, Tatian (ca. AD 120–180) may have been aware of
this verse, for it is included in some much later Latin and Arabic copies of
his Diatessaron.106 The first secure reference to the account of the angel at Bethesda is in
Tertullian’s (ca. AD 160–225) treatise entitled Concerning Baptism (ca. AD 205). He refers to the account (without explicitly mentioning the
Gospel of John) in the context of comparing Christian baptism with
non-Christian rituals of cleansing and how in the Christian case the Holy Spirit,
via an angel, might actually sanctify the waters of baptism: "If it is
thought strange that an angel should do things to waters, there has already
occurred a precedent of that which was to be. An angel used to do things when
he moved the Pool of Bethsaida [Bethesda]." 107
While confirming that
certain Christians knew of the story of the angel at Bethesda by the third
century, the evidence from Tertullian on its own cannot prove that John 5:4 is
authentic. In fact, the manuscript support against it is overwhelming.108 On internal grounds, the few defenders of the authenticity of this verse point
out that it is needed (along with 3b) to make sense of verse 7:109 "The impotent man
answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into
the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me." While verse 4 does help clarify verse 7, it is not absolutely
necessary. Furthermore, it runs against the text-critical principle of lectio difficilior potior ("more
difficult reading is better"). Put simply, a more difficult, perhaps
ambiguous, reading is more likely to be older than another reading that is
expanded and clearer, since a scribe or copyist would likely be more inclined
to add a verse for clarification than to remove a verse in an otherwise
straightforward narrative.110 In John 5 it is more likely that verse 4 was added (to help clarify
v. 7) than omitted. Furthermore, verse 4 contains certain words and
linguistic constructions that are otherwise foreign to the Gospel of John and
suggest a different hand than the writer of this gospel.111 In light of all the evidence, it seems very likely that this verse is not
authentic but is a later interpolation.112
53And every man went unto
In this story113 the scribes and Pharisees bring before Jesus a woman allegedly caught in the
act of adultery and question him about the appropriate punishment, which
according to the law of Moses was stoning (Deuteronomy 22:21–24). Jesus
eventually responds, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast
a stone at her" (John 8:7). At this the accusers gradually depart, "being
convicted by their own conscience" (v. 9), and leave Jesus alone with the
woman. The pericope comes to a close with Jesus exhorting the woman to "go,
and sin no more" (v. 11). This is the only story of this type preserved in
any of the Gospels.
In most modern translations, these verses are either written
in italics or placed in brackets and are usually accompanied by an explanatory
note about their tenuous character. John 7:53–8:11 does not appear in any
of the most important ancient manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex
Codex Freerianus (W), 𝔓66,
or 𝔓75. Although Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C) and Codex
Alexandrinus (A) are damaged in this section of John’s gospel, measurement of
the missing sections suggests insufficient room for the passage in question. A
number of later manuscripts mark this passage with asterisks or obeli to signal
its questionable nature.114 Furthermore,
in some manuscripts the passage is placed after John 7:36 or 7:44, at the end
of the gospel (i.e., after John 21:25), or after Luke 21:38, all of which
suggests that this story was a later interpolation.115 In its present location, the story is first attested in Codex Bezae (D).116 Given
the nature of the manuscript and papyrological evidence, it seems almost
certain that this pericope was not originally part of John’s gospel.
While it is possible that a verse or two might
unintentionally be lost, it is less likely that a copyist or scribe could
accidently omit twelve whole verses. Furthermore, it is also unlikely that
these verses were inadvertently dropped by a number of different copyists and
scribes working independently of each other at different times and in different
places. Though some have speculated that perhaps the story was intentionally
omitted from John’s gospel because it could portray Jesus as too lenient on
adultery, this theory does not adequately take account of all the evidence.
Unlike Luke 22:43–44, where a circumstantial case can be made for
deliberate omission, there is no evidence that John 7:53–8:11 was
expunged due to "moral prudence," as Augustine would later argue.117 If this were the case, at least one early manuscript ought to contain the story
(as is the case with manuscript 0171 [PSI II 124] and Luke 22:43–44), yet
not a single early manuscript before Codex Bezae (D) contains the story.
In patristic literature this story in its current form is
unknown until the later part of the fourth century. Origen, in his Commentary on
John, skips directly from John 7:52 to 8:12, so evidently none of
the third-century copies of John known to Origen contained this story.
Similarly, Tertullian and Cyprian (d. AD 258) show no awareness of this story,
even though they both issued ecclesiastical instructions concerning adultery.118 In the
Greek East, the first church father to unambiguously mention the story is
Euthymius Zigabenus (early twelfth century), who notes that it clearly was
inserted into John’s gospel.119 In the Latin West, the story is first mentioned at the end of the fourth
century by Ambrose and then Jerome. Interestingly, Jerome remarks that the
story was well attested: "In the Gospel according to John there is found
in many Greek as well as Latin copies the story of the adulteress who was
accused before the Lord." 120
While the story seems to have been unknown to patristic
writers until the end of the fourth century, it is possible that a version was
known much earlier. In his Ecclesiastical History (ca. AD 320), Eusebius quotes a
story known to him through the writings of Papias of Hierapolis (ca. AD 60–130),
an early bishop of Hierapolis in western Asia Minor. "The same person [Papias] uses proofs from the
First Epistle of John, and from the Epistle of Peter in like manner. And he also
gives another story of a woman who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is found in the Gospel according to the Hebrews." 121 While this reference is brief and the
description incomplete, Papias apparently knew of a story that circulated among
early Christians and that shared at least some parallels with the story of the
woman taken in adultery.122 Eusebius’s comment about the Gospel according to the Hebrews containing the story is difficult to assess since this gospel is no longer
extant.123 Additionally, since it is not clear that Eusebius was aware of the story of the
woman taken in adultery in John 7:53–8:11, it is difficult to know how he
was interpreting the statement from Papias. Was there another story in
circulation about a different woman being accused of sins before Jesus?
Another relatively early source that possibly references
this story is the Didascalia Apostolorum, or Teachings of the Apostles.
While this source purports to have been written by the apostles at the time of
the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), modern scholarship has shown that it was
actually composed sometime in the third century.124 In the section of this treatise where bishops are instructed to mercifully
receive penitent sinners, an illustrative story is given, one that suggests
that the author(s) of the treatise was aware of a story similar to what is
found in John 7:53–8:11:
And when the elders had set another woman which had sinned
before Him [Jesus], and had left the sentence to Him, and were gone out, our
Lord, the Searcher of the hearts, inquiring of her whether the elders had
condemned her, and being answered No, He said unto her: "Go thy way
therefore, for neither do I condemn thee." This Jesus, O ye bishops, our
Saviour, our King, and our God, ought to be set before you as your pattern.125
While the example cited in the Didascalia
Apostolorum shares definite parallels with John 7:53–8:11,
there are also clear differences. Jesus’s response to the woman in the Didascalia
Apostolorum, "Go thy way therefore, for neither do I condemn
thee," is remarkably similar to what is found in John 8:11, "Neither
do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." On the other hand, the Johannine
version implies that the woman was actually guilty of adultery, whereas the
example cited in the Didascalia Apostolorum supposes that that woman was
actually innocent of whatever charges were being leveled against her (it is not
clear that it was necessarily adultery). Furthermore, the Johannine version
refers to the "scribes and Pharisees," while the Didascalia
Apostolorum mentions "the Elders"; in the former the
accusers leave as a result of a guilty conscience, whereas in the latter they
leave voluntarily so that Jesus can judge independently.
Finally, in his Commentary on Ecclesiastes,
Didymus the Blind (ca. AD 318–98), the famous biblical exegete from
Alexandria, relates a story that is very similar to what is found in John
We find, therefore, in certain gospels [the following
story]. A woman, it says, was condemned by the Jews for a sin and was being
sent to be stoned in the place where that was customary to happen. The saviour,
it says, when he saw her and observed that they were ready to stone her, said
to those who were about to cast stones, "He who has not sinned, let him
take a stone and cast it." If anyone is conscious in himself not to have
sinned, let him take up a stone and smite her. And no one dared. Since they knew
in themselves and perceived that they themselves were guilty in some things,
they did not dare to strike her.126
The story, as related by Didymus, shares definite
parallels with the account in John 7:53–8:11, most notably "He who
has not sinned, let him take a stone and cast it" (compare John 8:7).
However, there are also some important differences. For example, Didymus does
not identify the charge as adultery, nor should it be automatically assumed,
since other crimes also merited stoning according to the law of Moses.127 Furthermore,
the story is framed differently from how it appears in John. In John the
scribes and Pharisees seek to entrap Jesus and therefore bring the woman to him
and solicit his opinion on the condemnation, whereas in Didymus’s account the
Jews never seek out Jesus’s judgment—rather, Jesus shows the initiative
and intervenes on the woman’s behalf. Though it might be tempting to suppose
that Didymus must have had the Gospel of John in mind when he said the story
could be found "in certain gospels," the clear differences between
the accounts make that facile assumption problematic. Furthermore, Didymus
might have been referring not to John’s gospel but to the similar story that
Eusebius attributes to the Gospel according to the Hebrews.
In any event, the patristic evidence demonstrates that at
least by the second century certain Christians were aware of a story about a
condemned woman who appeared before Jesus and whose punishment was subsequently
nullified or mitigated as a result of the encounter. Yet the similar story in
John cannot be deemed original to that gospel. The ancient manuscript evidence
speaks against it, and the story contains literary features that suggest
non-Johannine authorship.128 Different earlier versions of this story suggest that its current form in John
is not the original version. Perhaps, then, the story evolved into its present
form and was added to John in the fourth or fifth century because its core had
an ancient pedigree and its appeal to mercy over punishment was attractive.
17. Acts 8:37 KJV
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine
εἰπε δὲ ὁ
In this verse Philip, one of the seven chosen by the
apostles to help with the ministry (Acts 6:5), travels to Gaza and converts a
eunuch from Ethiopia whom he meets along the way (Acts 8:26–40). After
Phillip briefly preaches about Jesus (v. 35), the eunuch requests baptism (v.
36). Philip replies that he can receive baptism as long as believes with all
his heart (v. 37a), whereupon the eunuch professes belief in Jesus Christ as
the Son of God (v. 37b) and is then baptized (v. 38).
Most modern NT translations (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT,
NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) omit this verse because it is missing from Codex
Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Alexandrinus (A), and 𝔓45.129 Its earliest attestation in a codex is in the sixth century, in Codex Laudianus
(E),130 after which date it becomes more common until, by the ninth century, it appears
with some frequency in various Greek miniscules. Given the strong manuscript
evidence and lack of grounds for accidental omission, it seems probable that
verse 37 was a later accretion to Acts. Supporting this view is the fact that
the Ethiopian eunuch’s declaration of belief in verse 37b is a confessional
phrase that gained currency in the liturgy and catechetical confessions of the
fifth and sixth centuries. As Metzger has argued, "Its insertion into the
text seems to have been due to the feeling that Philip would not have baptized
the Ethiopian without securing a confession of faith, which needed to be
expressed in the narrative." 131
Erasmus remarked (see below) that to his knowledge Acts 8:37
was not attested in any Greek manuscript he consulted, although he attributed
this to scribal error. Interestingly, Irenaeus of Lyons, in his Against
Heresies (ca. AD 180), mentions the Ethiopian eunuch’s confession
(otherwise known only from Acts 8:37) and quotes it (albeit in Latin) rather
closely to how it appears in Acts 8:37b (Greek): "I believe Jesus to be
the son of God." 132
Although some might suspect that this verse was removed
because it could be used against the practice of infant baptism (confession of
belief being something that infants are unable to do), there is no indication
that this was the case. When the debate about infant baptism emerged in the
fifth century, Acts 8:37 was never invoked as a proof text against the
practice, nor do we find an allegation that adherents of the practice expunged
this verse from their scriptures. Furthermore, there are textually secure
passages in the NT that show confession to be an important prerequisite for
baptism (Acts 16:29–33; 18:8). If Acts 8:37 was removed for doctrinal
reasons, why were these other passages not expunged too?
Erasmus’s notes on this verse: "And Philip said: ‘If
you believe &c.’ [the rest of the verse] until the place ‘and he commanded
the chariot to stand still [v. 37],’ I did not find in the Greek manuscripts,
although I think that it has been omitted by the carelessness of copyists. For
I found this [verse] is applied in certain Greek manuscripts, but in the
18. Acts 15:34 KJV
Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
ἔδοξε δὲ τῷ
After the Jerusalem Council, where it was determined that
Gentile followers need not be circumcised to become Christians, Paul and
Barnabas, accompanied by Silas and Judas, went to Antioch to inform the
Christian congregations in the city about the ruling. Acts 15:33 gives the
impression that Silas and Judas returned to Jerusalem. However, in verses
40–41 we learn that Paul (in Antioch) chose Silas (seemingly in
Jerusalem) as his new companion and headed toward Cilicia. Verse 34 clarifies
the situation by stating that Silas did not actually return to Jerusalem but
remained in Antioch, where Paul was.
Most modern editions of the NT omit this verse (CEV, ESV,
NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) because it does not appear in any
of the most important ancient witnesses: Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Alexandrinus (A), or 𝔓74.133 The verse does appear in Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C) and in Codex Bezae
(D), but in Bezae it is expanded: "But it seemed good to Silas that they
remain, and Judas journeyed alone."
Because a variety of ancient manuscripts lack this verse, it
is highly unlikely that it was accidentally omitted due to scribal error. It
seems far more likely that this verse was later added by a copyist to explain
how Paul could have chosen Silas as his new companion so readily. Nevertheless,
beyond adding clarity to the narrative, this verse has no theologically
Erasmus’s notes on this verse: " ’To remain
there’ is to remain in the same place. In other respects, after these words,
which is followed in our copies with ‘wherefore Judas alone went away to
Jerusalem,’ I did not find among the Greek [manuscripts]. It seemed that Silas
remained there to be found, except in one manuscript, in which it is placed in
the margin. Truly it is possible for this to be seen as an error made by
19. Acts 24:7 KJV
But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with
The context here is Paul’s hearing before the Roman
procurator (governor) Felix in Caesarea, when a lawyer named Tertius 134 accuses Paul of having profaned the temple (Acts 24:6) and relates how Lysias,
a Roman tribune, had come and rescued Paul from the angry mob. Most modern NT
translations omit verse 7 (along with v. 6b)—CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB,
NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV—since it does not appear in any of the most
important ancient manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Sinaiticus (א), Codex
Alexandrinus (A), or 𝔓74.135 The verse is first attested in the sixth-century Codex Laudianus (E).
In light of the overwhelming manuscript evidence, it seems
rather certain that verse 7 was added to Acts 24. The most plausible
explanation is that it was inserted into Tertius’s speech to clarify that it
was Lysias who forcibly removed Paul from the mob, an incident reported
previously in Acts 21:33. However, some scholars see the verse as authentic and
argue that a jump from verse 6b to verse 8 upsets clarity and completeness. Yet
this is precisely the place where a copyist or scribe might be most inclined to
insert extra material into the text in order to clarify an otherwise
semiambiguous passage. In any case, about the only implication of the addition
or omission of this verse is that it has some bearing on the interpretation of παρ’ οὗ ("of whom")
at the start of verse 8. If the verse is omitted, this clearly refers to Paul;
if retained, it refers to Lysias.
Erasmus’s notes on this verse: " ’Whom we
took and we wanted to judge him according to our law. And the tribune Lysias
came in and with great force took him from our hands, commanding his accusers
to come to you.’ In multiple Greek copies they lack all this. Except in one I
found added, but of the smallest form, and it is in the space of the margin."
20. Acts 28:29 KJV
And when he had said these words, the Jews departed,
This verse forms part of the conclusion of Acts. Paul is in
Rome awaiting his appearance before the emperor (Acts 28:16–31). In the
meantime he called the leading Jews of the city together and declared the
gospel unto them (vv. 17, 23). Paul’s message was met with mixed reactions (v.
24), whereupon he rebuked certain of them by quoting Isaiah 6:9–10
(Isaiah’s words of reproach to Israel) before they left. Verse 29 describes the
reactions of certain Jews after they departed from Paul.
In most modern NT translations, this verse is omitted (CEV,
ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV) because it does not appear
in any ancient manuscript. It is not present in Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex
Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Laudianus (E), or 𝔓74.136 Even Erasmus remarks (see below) that he could not locate this verse in several
Greek manuscripts. Given the overwhelming manuscript evidence against its
authenticity, this verse appears to be a later interpolation to Acts. The best
explanation is that it was inserted at some later point to smooth out the
rather hasty transition from verse 28 to verse 30. In any event, this verse has
no significant theological implications.
Erasmus’s notes on this verse: "’And when they had
said these things, the Jews departed from him, having a great dispute among
themselves.’ I did not find the words in several old manuscripts."
21. Romans 16:24 KJV
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
ἡ χάρις τοῦ
Part of the final instructions in Romans (16:17–24)
before the concluding doxology (vv. 25–27), this verse is basically a
repetition of verse 20b: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
you. Amen." 137 Most modern NT translations (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV,
TEV) omit the verse because it is not attested in Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex
Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), 𝔓46, or 𝔓61.
However, it is attested in Codex Bezae (D).
In light of the overwhelming manuscript evidence against its
authenticity, combined with the fact that it essentially repeats verse 20b, the
verse very likely is a later addition to Romans. Perhaps the most likely
explanation is that it effectively closes the letter with a dominical
declaration, one perhaps added in a later ecclesiastical context in which this
letter was read as part of the liturgy.138
22. 1 John 5:7b–8a KJV
7For there are three that bear record
These two verses are part of the book’s concluding narrative
section wherein the author testifies about the reality of Jesus Christ and his
divine Sonship (1 John 5:6–20). As they currently stand in the KJV, these
two verses assert the unity of the Godhead. In virtually every modern NT
translation (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV, TEV), verses 7b
and 8a are omitted since they do not appear in a single ancient Greek
In the oldest Greek manuscripts containing 1
John—Codex Sinaiticus (א),
Codex Vaticanus (B), and Codex Alexandrinus (A)—these two verses read as
follows:139 "7aFor there are three that bear record, 8bthe
Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."
Similarly, not a single early church father writing in Greek is aware of 1 John
5:7b–8a. For example, the earliest Christian commentator on these verses,
Clement of Alexandria, cites them as follows: "7aFor there are
three that bear witness, 8bthe spirit, and the water, and the blood,
and these three are one." 140 The fact that no Greek writer of the ancient church is aware of 1 John
5:7b–8a is very telling, especially when one considers the theological
controversies of the fourth century that centered on the nature of the Godhead
(i.e., Arianism and Sabellianism) and were resolved by promulgating the
doctrine of the Trinity. Certainly if 1 John 5:7b–8a were authentic, why
did not a single church father writing in Greek cite these verses in defense of
Trinitarian theology since they form the only explicit Trinitarian formula in
the entire NT?
When one goes beyond the Greek NT and Greek patristic
writers and examines other ancient copies of the NT, whether they be in Syriac,
Coptic, or Ethiopic, the results are the same.141 No ancient copy of 1 John in any of these languages contains 5:7b–8a.
Similarly, a survey of the Old Latin version of the NT, preserved fragmentarily
by such Latin fathers as Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine, reveals that 1
John 5:7b–8a was not in the earliest Latin versions of the NT.142 Furthermore, it is evident that Jerome’s Vulgate did not contain these verses
Based on the overwhelming textual evidence, it is fairly
obvious that 1 John 5:7b–8a, commonly referred to as the Comma
Johanneum (Johannine Comma),144 is not authentic but is a much later interpolation. Where did it come from? Its
earliest attestation is in the Liber Apologeticus, a
fourth-century homily by either Bishop Priscillian of Avila (d. AD 385) or his
successor, Bishop Instantius.145 According to Metzger, it was between the fifth and sixth centuries when this
interpolation was placed in select Latin versions of 1 John:
Apparently the gloss [1 John 5:7b–8a] arose when the
original passage [1 John 5:7–8] was understood to symbolize the Trinity
(through the mention of three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood),
an interpretation that may have been written first as a marginal note that
afterwards found its way into the text. In the fifth century the gloss was
quoted by Latin Fathers in North Africa and Italy as part of the text of the
Epistle, and from the sixth century onwards it is found more and more
frequently in manuscripts of the Old Latin and of the Vulgate.146
At some point between the eighth and ninth centuries,
when this reading caught on and became somewhat widespread in Latin NT
manuscripts of the time, it was apparently conscripted into select Greek
manuscripts. At present, the earliest Greek manuscript that contains
1 John 5:7b–8a is a tenth-century manuscript in which these verses
are added as part of an alternative reading.147 Of the nearly 5,400 known Greek manuscripts of the NT, only 8 contain the
Johannine Comma, and most of them are from the fifteenth or sixteenth century.148
The story of how these verses made their way into the Greek
NT produced by Erasmus, which subsequently paved the way for their inclusion in
the KJV, is intriguing. In the first and second editions of Erasmus’s Greek NT
(1516, 1519), 1 John 5:7b–8a was not included because Erasmus knew of no
Greek manuscript that had these verses. However, by omitting these verses,
Erasmus—and subsequently his version of the NT—began to come under
increasing attack from various quarters of the church. The accusations ranged
from negligence (Lat. supinitas), for not adequately or thoroughly checking
all Greek manuscripts of the time, to heresy, because 1 John 5:7b–8a was
thought to be a divine safeguard against Arianism.149 One of the most vocal and persistent critics was Edward Lee, who would later
serve as Archbishop of York (1531–1544). In 1520 Erasmus issued a
detailed response directly to Lee, entitled Responsio ad Annotationes Eduardi Lei. In it Erasmus defended himself and his work and explained why 1 John
5:7b–8a was omitted from his first two editions of the Greek NT:
I shall merely say that I examined at various times more
than seven manuscripts and did not find in any of them what we read in our
texts. If I had come across one manuscript that had the reading found in our
texts, I would have added the phrase missing in the others on the strength of that
one. Since that did not happen I did the only thing possible and indicated what
was lacking in the Greek texts.150
Nevertheless, Erasmus’s third edition of his Greek NT,
published in 1522, inserted the questionable Johannine Comma, which remained in
all future editions. The primary reason for its insertion was that, very
conveniently, a Greek NT manuscript containing 1 John 5:7b–8a suddenly
appeared and sometime between May 1520 and June 1521 was brought to the
attention of Erasmus, who included the Johannine Comma in his third edition.
However, it is evident that he had reservations about the authenticity and
timely appearance of that manuscript. The manuscript, known today as Codex
Montfortianus and by Erasmus as Codex Britannicus, dates to the early sixteenth
century.151 It contains the entire NT written in miniscule script with one column per page.
Scholars have long recognized that this manuscript was basically produced to
induce Erasmus to include the Johannine Comma.152 As Metzger and Ehrman argue:
In an unguarded moment, Erasmus may have promised that he
would insert the Comma Johanneum, as it is called, in future editions if
a single Greek manuscript could be found that contained the passage. At length,
such a copy was found—or was made to order! As it now appears, the Greek
manuscript had probably been written in Oxford about 1520 by a Franciscan friar
named Froy (or Roy), who took the disputed words from the Latin Vulgate.
Erasmus inserted the passage in his third edition (1522), but in a lengthy footnote
that was included in his volume of annotations, he intimated his suspicion that
the manuscript had been prepared expressly in order to confute him.153
There is no substantial evidence that Erasmus felt
constrained by any promise to include these verses if they could be found in a
Greek manuscript. A more likely reason for their inclusion was that the
protests moved him to defend his good name and ensure the continued success of
his Greek NT.154 As a result, these verses were later included in the KJV since they appeared in
all versions of Erasmus’s Greek NT after the second edition, even though they
clearly were not original to 1 John. The correct reading for 1 John
5:7–8 should be: "7For there are three that
bear record, 8the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these
three agree in one."
Erasmus’s notes on these verses: "’There
are three who give testimony in heaven.’ In the Greek manuscript(s) I only
found this concerning the testimony of the three: ‘there are three testifying,
the spirit and the water and the blood'; it is because there are three that
testify—the spirit, and the water, and the blood. The divine Jerome
announced beforehand in his canonical letters that this passage was suspected
to be a corruption from the Latin interpreters, and the testimony of ‘the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ was omitted by several. . . . To this Paolo
Bombasio, a learned and blameless man, at my enquiry described this passage to
me word for word from a very old codex from the Vatican library, in which it
does not have the testimony ‘of the father, word, and spirit.’ If anyone is
impressed by age, the book was very ancient; if by the authority of the Pope,
this testimony was sought from his library. The edition by Aldina agrees with
this reading." 155
It should be readily apparent that, on the basis of the
evidence from the ancient NT manuscripts, there are some passages that do not
actually belong in the KJV NT. Of the twenty-two passages that appear in the
KJV but are omitted or bracketed in most modern editions of the Bible (see
table 1), there are good grounds for omitting nineteen of them (forty verses).
Though this sounds like a significant number, when one considers that there are
about 7,956 verses in the NT, the questionable verses make up only one-half of
1 percent of the entire NT (.005). While
the KJV NT certainly has some textual problems owing to its Greek subtext, it
must also be acknowledged that, statistically speaking, the Greek subtext
nearly always agrees with the ancient textual evidence as it currently stands.156
Even though the textual integrity of nineteen passages
(forty verses) is to be doubted, whether they are omitted or not makes little
or no difference doctrinally or theologically. For example, numbers 2, 3, 5, 6,
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 14 may be regarded as some kind of gospel harmonization.
Because they have been directly conscripted from elsewhere in the Gospels, little is changed
doctrinally by omitting these passages. For example, number 9 (Mark 11:26) has
been taken directly from Matthew 6:15, which is a textually secure verse. But
even though Mark 11:26 should be omitted, the same material remains in Matthew
6:15, so effectively nothing is lost. The same is generally true for the other
nine instances of harmonization. While numbers 17 and 21 are not gospel
harmonizations, since the material they contain can be securely found elsewhere
in the NT, their omission makes little difference doctrinally. Additionally,
other verses, like numbers 19 and 20, have no real significance outside of
clarifying the mundane details of a passage and therefore have no real theological
Table 1. Likely authenticity of New Testament verses included in
KJV but deleted in modern versions
Likely added (unoriginal)
1 John 5:7b–8a
On the other hand, a few of the questionable KJV passages do
carry theological implications, and significant ones at that. The one with the
greatest theological significance is number 22 (1 John 5:7b–8a). If this
verse is admitted as authentic, it could be argued that there is at least one
NT verse that contains overt Trinitarian theology. However, as this and
numerous other studies before it have shown, the famous (perhaps infamous)
Johannine Comma is clearly a much later interpolation that lacks any ancient
textual support whatsoever. To a lesser extent, number 15 (John 5:4) is
potentially theologically significant because if it is authentic, the
principles upon which miracles are thought to be predicated (e.g., faithfulness
and righteousness) would have to be expanded to include arbitrary chance.
Further, if number 13 (Luke 22:43–44) is authentic, the verse has
theological consequences for how one views Jesus’s atoning sacrifice and the
role Gethsemane played in that sacrifice.
Though in most text-critical cases the KJV NT appears to be
inferior to many modern Bible editions, such deficiencies should not be
overexaggerated or allowed to overshadow the strengths of the KJV. Such
strengths include the beauty of its language and its consistently very close or
literal translation of the Greek text—something some modern editions have
moved too far away from by taking too much license in translation. Despite its
largely minor text-critical shortcomings, the KJV is still a respectable edition
of the NT that can still, even four hundred years after its publication, be
used with much profit, especially if one is made aware of some of those
Lincoln H. Blumell is assistant professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University.
thank the two anonymous reviewers of this essay for their candid yet insightful
feedback. I also thank the editors of this journal, Carl Griffin and Brian
Hauglid, for their many helpful suggestions.
1. On the KJV’s impact on
Western society, be it theological, linguistic, or political, see Robert Alter, Pen
of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2010); David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History
and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 227–50, 461–98; Alister
E. McGrath, In
the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a
Language, and a Culture (New York: Doubleday, 2001); and Benson
as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001).
2. The process or method of
evaluating differences and variants between biblical manuscripts in an attempt
to determine the most likely original reading is known as textual criticism.
For an introduction to biblical textual criticism, see Bart D. Ehrman, The New
Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writers,
4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 487–99; and Paul D.
Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible (Downers Grove,
IL: IVP Academic, 2006).
3. This line of reasoning may
derive from 1 Nephi 13:28–29, where Nephi reports that many "plain
and precious things" have been expunged from the Bible. In some cases such
corruption could certainly have included the addition of spurious material.
4. For convenience and per
modern convention, all NT material will be cited by chapter and verse. It
should be noted, however, that the versification of the NT is a relatively
modern phenomenon. The versification followed by the KJV NT and most modern
translations was first devised by the famous Parisian printer Robert Estienne
(1503–1559) in his 1551 printed edition of the Greek NT. Chapter
divisions as we know them today in the NT were first introduced into the Latin
Vulgate in the thirteenth century by Stephen Langton (ca. 1150–1228), the
Archbishop of Canterbury. See Robert L. Omanson, A Textual
Guide to the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: German Bible Society,
5. A more detailed sketch of
this section can be found in Lincoln Blumell, "The New Testament Text of
the King James Bible," in The King James Bible and the Restoration,
ed. Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book,
6. McGrath, In the
Beginning, 163–64. In collaboration with Richard Bancroft, the
Bishop of London, King James drew up a series of fifteen guidelines for the
translators. For these guidelines, see McGrath, In the Beginning,
7. Beza produced nine different
editions of the Greek NT. His tenth edition was published posthumously in 1611.
Only four of Beza’s editions (1565, 1582, 1588–89, and 1598) were
independent editions, the others being simply smaller reprints. See
Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its
Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2005), 151–52.
8. Beza relied heavily on Robert
Estienne’s 1551 edition of the Greek NT, which in turn was essentially based on
an earlier edition by Erasmus.
9. The term Textus
Receptus, used to designate the Greek NT text essentially produced
by Erasmus, was first coined in 1633 by two Dutch printers, Bonaventure and
Abraham Elzevir. In the preface to a 1633 edition of a Greek NT they printed,
one based on an earlier edition by Beza, they wrote, "Therefore you have
[dear reader] the text now received by all, in which we give nothing changed or
corrupted." From Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the New Testament, 152.
10. One such manuscript that
contained Acts and the Pauline letters was obtained from the family of Johann
Amerbach of Basel. See William W. Combs, "Erasmus and the Textus Receptus," Detroit
Baptist Seminary Journal 1 (Spring 1996): 45.
11. On these manuscripts, see
Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the New Testament, 142–45; P.-Y. Brandt, "Manuscripts
grecs utilisés par Erasme pour son édition de Novum Instrumentum de 1516," Theologische
Zeitschrift 54 (1998): 120–24; Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of
the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory
and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes,
2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 4–6; and C. C. Tarelli, "Erasmus’s
Manuscripts of the Gospels," Journal of Theological Studies 44
12. Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the
New Testament, 152.
13. Despite the early dating of
some of these texts, not one is an autograph copy (i.e., the original text
written by one of the various authors of the NT books).
14. To put this in quantifiable
perspective, of the roughly 5,400 NT written manuscripts and fragments of
manuscripts that we currently possess, the cumulative differences (i.e.,
textual variants) between them number anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000. As Bart
Ehrman has put it: "Perhaps it is simplest to express the figure in
comparative terms: there are more differences among our manuscripts than there
are words in the New Testament." See Bart D. Ehrman, The New
Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writers,
4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 490. However, this does not
mean that the NT text is completely unreliable. The overwhelming majority of
such differences is relatively insignificant and has to do with spelling errors
and other minor variations.
15. Precise dating of papyrus fragments is not possible since the typical
paleographic means employed gives a window of twenty-five or fifty years. While
the earliest date proposed for 𝔓52 is
around AD 125, it could date from the middle to late second century. In any
case, there is wide consensus in scholarship that it is a second-century
fragment. See Brent Nongbri, "The Use and Abuse of 𝔓52:
Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel," Harvard Theological Review 98/1 (2005): 23–48.
16. While a date of ca. AD 200 is
often proposed for 𝔓46,
a third-century dating cannot be ruled out.
17. For a useful introduction to
the various NT papyri, see Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett,
Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts: New and Complete
Transcriptions with Photographs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001).
Compare Roger S. Bagnall, Early Christian Books in Egypt (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2009), 1–24; and Charles E. Hill, Who Chose the
Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2010), 249–50.
18. The letter represents the
siglum (or abbreviation) used in scholarly studies to refer to the specific
19. The Septuagint, or LXX as it
is commonly known, is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.
20. Eusebius, Life of
Constantine 4.36, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series
2, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994),
1:549 (hereafter NPNF).
21. Athanasius, Defense before
Constantius 4 (NPNF 4:239).
22. This text is a palimpsest, a
manuscript that has been reused after the original text has been largely erased
or removed by scraping or washing. The erased script is typically referred to
as the "underscript" and the newer script as the "overscript."
Ephraem the Syrian, whose tractates were written over the removed biblical
text, was an Eastern church father who lived in Nisibis and Edessa in the
latter part of the fourth century.
23. The NT lacunae are as
follows: Matthew 1:1–2; 5:15–7:5; 7:26–18:28;
22:21–23:17; 24:10–45; 25:30–26:22; 27:11–46;
28:15–to the end; Mark 1:1–17; 6:32–8:5; 12:30–13:19;
Luke 1:1–2; 2:5–42; 3:21–4:25; 6:4–36; 7:17–8:28;
12:4–19:42; 20:28–21:20; 22:19–23:25; 24:7–45; John
1:1–3; 1:41–3:33; 5:17–6:38; 7:3–8:34; 9:11–11:7;
11:47–13:7; 14:8–16:21; 18:36–20:25; Acts 1:1–2;
4:3–5:34; 6:8; 10:43–13:1; 16:37–20:10; 21:31–22:20;
3:18–24:15; 26:19–27:16; 28:5–to the end; Romans 1:1–3;
2:5–3:21; 9:6–10:15; 11:31–13:10; 1 Corinthians 1:1–2;
7:18–9:6; 13:8–15:40; 2 Corinthians 1:1–2; 10:8–to
the end of the book; Galatians 1:1–20; Ephesians 1:1–2:18;
4:17–to the end of the book; Philippians 1:1–22; 3:5–to the
end of the book; Colossians 1:1–2; Thessalonians 1:1; 2:9–to the
end of the book; 2 Thessalonians completely lost; 1 Timothy 1:1–3:9;
5:20–to the end of the book; 2 Timothy 1:1–2; Titus
1:1–2; Philemon 1–2; Hebrews 1:1–2:4; 7:26–9:15;
10:24–12:15; James 1:1–2; 4:2–to the end; 1 Peter 1:1–2;
4:5–to the end of the book; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 1:1–2;
4:3–to the end of the book; 2 John completely lost; 3 John
1–2; Jude 1–2; Revelation 1:1–2; 3:20–5:14;
7:14–17; 8:5–9:16; 10:10–11:3; 16:13–18:2;
19:5–to the end of the book. On the lacunae, see Nestle-Aland Novum
Testamentum Graece (NA26), 689.
24. The missing sections are
Matthew 1; 6–9; 27; Mark 16; John 1–3; Acts 8–10;
22–28; Romans 1; James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1–3 John; Jude;
and Revelation. See Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament,
368–78; and David C. Parker, Codex Bezae: An Early Christian Manuscript
and Its Text (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 8.
25. For an English introduction
to this text, see pp. 44*–83* of NA27.
26. This study does not take into
account passages in which only portions of a verse have been removed, with the
exception of 1 John 5:7b–8a; that is because the omission
constitutes a significant part of the two verses.
27. The Greek text herein is
taken from F. H. A. Scrivener’s 1894 edition of the Greek NT. I have drawn from
this source throughout this study in order to parallel the KJV translation at
the beginning of each section with the corresponding Greek text, which
essentially constitutes the Textus Receptus and would have been the Greek text
employed by the translators of the KJV NT. Scrivener’s edition is based on
Theodore Beza’s 1598 edition of the Greek NT.
28. For modern versions of the
Bible, see The
SBL Handbook of Style for Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian
Studies (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 72–73, and
29. Codex Sinaiticus (א), as
well as some of the other ancient NT manuscripts (principally Codex Freerianus
[W] and Codex Bezae [D]), had various correctors over the ages who both
inserted and omitted verses as they saw fit to correct the various readings
preserved in these Bibles. While their corrections are secondary, they still
offer some valid text-critical insights into the potential authenticity or
inauthenticity of select verses. For the correctors of Codex Sinaiticus (א), see
Dirk Jongkind, Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus (Piscataway, NJ:
Gorgias, 2007), 9–20. For the correctors of Codex Bezae (D), see Parker, Codex Bezae,
35–48. Codex Alexandrinus (A) is defective for much of the Gospel of
Matthew, so it is not possible to determine whether or not it contained this verse.
30. Homoioteleuton refers
to an omission that occurs when two words or phrases have identical endings and
the scribe’s or copyist’s eye skips from one to the next, resulting in omission
of the intervening material. On this phenomenon, see Wegner, Student’s
Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible, 49–50.
31. This doctrine holds that Mary
remained a virgin throughout her lifetime, that Jesus was her only biological
offspring, and that she never "knew" Joseph in the biblical sense of
the word (virgo
intacta). This tradition is held principally in Roman Catholicism and in Eastern Orthodoxy. The idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity was first
introduced into the Protoevangelium of James, where it is argued that the "brethren"
of Jesus were actually children of Joseph from a previous marriage. It is not
until the fourth century that Mary is referred to as "ever virgin" (ἀειπάρθενος); in the
fifth century this doctrine becomes fairly established. See F. L. Cross and E.
A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed.
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), s.v. "Mary, the Blessed Virgin,"
1047–48. In his discussion of this verse, Erasmus treats the various
issues surrounding the perpetual virginity of Mary at some length by referencing
various patristic authors. See Anne Reeve, ed., Erasmus’ Annotations on the New
Testament: The Gospels. Facsimile of the Final Latin Text (1535) with Earlier
Variants (1516, 1519, 1522 and 1527) (London: Duckworth, 1986),
32. However, the questionable
verse was added much later by one of several correctors of Sinaiticus (אc).
33. Codex Alexandrinus (A) does
not contain most of the Gospel of Matthew, so it is not possible to determine
whether or not it contained this verse.
34. There is no evidence for
scribal error due to homoioteleuton (see note 30 above) or homoioarcton. Homoioarcton is an omission that occurs when two words or phrases have identical or similar
beginnings and the scribe’s or copyists’ eye skips from one to the next,
causing omission of the intervening material. See Wegner, Student’s
Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible, 49–50.
35. While Matthew 17:21 is not an
exact citation of Mark 9:29, it is remarkably close. Certainly an attempt at
harmonization is being made here. In Mark 9:29, "and fasting" (καὶ νηστεία) does
not appear in Codex Vaticanus (B) or Codex Sinaiticus (א), nor
does it seem to appear in 𝔓45, an early third-century papyrus codex
containing sections of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. While one cannot be
absolutely certain that 𝔓45 did not contain "and fasting,"
since the text is damaged in that part of the verse, the line spacing suggests
it was not present. On this codex, see Comfort and Barrett, Earliest New
Testament Greek Manuscripts, 155–201 (esp. p. 171). On the
other hand, "and fasting" does appear in Codex Alexandrinus (A),
Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), Codex Freerianus (W), and Codex Bezae (D).
Nevertheless, a number of modern versions have dropped "and fasting"
from their translations (CEV, ESV, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, NWT, REB, RSV,
TEV). Commenting on this specific verse, Bart Ehrman has argued that "and
fasting" was likely added to Mark 9:29 in a later monastic context where
fasting was a part of the daily ascetic regimen. See Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting
Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York:
HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), 97; see also Philip W. Comfort, New Testament
Text and Translation Commentary: Commenting on the Variant Readings of the
Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English
Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008), 130.
36. Codex Alexandrinus (A) does
not contain most of the Gospel of Matthew, so it is not possible to determine
whether or not it once contained this verse. Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C)
is also damaged in this section of Matthew.
37. Origen wrote a commentary on
the Gospel of Matthew around AD 246–48 (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical
History 6.36; NPNF 1:278–79), and although it is only partially
preserved, it is evident that he was not aware of Matthew 18:11, for his
commentary skips from verse 10 to verse 12 without comment. Similarly, it is
evident in Eusebius’s work on Matthew that he too had no knowledge of Matthew
38. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart: German
Bible Society, 2002), 36.
39. In some manuscripts of
Matthew, 18:11 appears exactly as it is cited in Luke, which lends some support
to the claim that it was probably borrowed from Luke 19:10. See Comfort, New Testament
Text and Translation Commentary, 52–53.
40. This fragment was first
published as P.Oxy. LXIV 4404. While the editor of the fragment, J. D. Thomas,
raised the possibility that verse 44 was missing, he was reluctant to do so
with certainty since the text is very badly effaced on the back of the fragment
where verses 43 and 45 seem to appear. The reading on the back of the papyrus
is so tentative that, with the exception of one letter, Thomas wrote every
other letter with an underdot to signify the uncertainty of the reading. More
recently, Comfort has argued that verse 44 is missing from the fragment (New Testament
Text and Translation Commentary, 65); however, his assertion is
based on Thomas’s suggestion and offers no additional argumentation. Having
examined a digital image of the back side of the papyrus fragment, I do not
think that one can confidently argue that verse 44 is not attested. In the
section where verse 45 supposedly begins, Thomas reads ακου]σ̣α̣[ν]τ̣ες̣
ο̣[ι, the beginning words of verse 45. Alternatively, one
could read κ̣α̣ι̣
π̣εσ̣ω̣[ν, the beginning words
of verse 44.
41. Origen’s Commentary on
Matthew skips this verse completely, possibly because it was missing
in his copy of Matthew.
42. Comfort, New Testament
Text and Translation Commentary, 65.
43. Although Mark 12:1–12
also contains a version of the parable of the wicked tenants, it does not
include a verse comparable to either Matthew 21:44 or Luke 20:18. The passage
does, however, include the quotation of Psalm 118:22 (compare Mark 12:10).
44. Both αὐτῆς and αὐτόν are different genders of the Greek personal pronoun αὐτός, αὐτή, αὐτό that
may be variously translated depending on the context. The translations provided
are based on the context of the respective verses.
45. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 47.
46. Codex Alexandrinus (A) does
not contain most of the Gospel of Matthew, so it is not possible to determine
whether or not it contained this verse. Likewise, Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C) is also damaged in this section of Matthew, so it is not
possible to determine whether or not it contained this verse.
47. Comfort, New Testament
Text and Translation Commentary, 69–70.
48. Both Mark 12:40 and Luke
20:47 are otherwise securely attested in the manuscript record. It is
interesting to note that whereas Mark has parallel particles (κατεσθίοντες/προσευχόµενοι),
Luke changes these to finite verbs (κατεσθίουσιν/προσεύχονται).
Matthew first employs a finite verb and then a particle (κατεσθίετε/προσευχόµενοι).
49. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 50.
50. Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C) is damaged in this section of Mark, so it is not possible to
determine whether or not it contained this verse.
51. Omanson, Textual Guide
to the Greek New Testament, 77.
52. What is said in this section
about verse 44 is equally true for verse 46 in no. 8 below.
53. Theophylact of Ohrid (b. ca.
1055; d. after 1125) was a Byzantine exegete who eventually became Archbishop
of Ohrid in the region of the Bulgarians. His principal works include a series
of commentaries on several books in the Old Testament as well as commentaries
on every NT book except Revelation. Erasmus was influenced considerably by his
writings and frequently refers to him in his notes. See Oxford
Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. "Theophylact,"
54. My English translation is
based on the Latin text of Erasmus given in Reeve, Erasmus’ Annotations of the New
Testament, 139. Subsequent citations herein of Erasmus are likewise
based on this edition.
55. Codex Freerianus (W) is
defective in this part of Mark, so it is not possible to determine whether or
not it contained this verse.
56. Uncial 083 (sixth century)
was discovered in the early 1970s at St. Catherine’s Monastery. Other manuscripts
with this verse include Uncial 013 (ninth century) and Δ 037 (ninth
57. The literature on the textual
authenticity/inauthenticity of Mark 16:9–20 is large and can hardly be
cited here. For a fairly recent bibliography of the subject, see N. Clayton
Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003),
190–230. For a good LDS analysis, see Thomas Wayment, "The Endings
of Mark and Revelation in the King James Bible," in The King James
Bible and the Restoration, 75–94.
58. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 102–3.
59. Justin Martyr, Apology 1.45, Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (1885;
reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 1:178 (hereafter ANF).
60. In Mark 16:20 the order of
the last two words is reversed (ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ),
but this makes no difference to the meaning of the phrase.
61. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.10.5–6 (ANF 1:426); the English translation is mine.
62. In the Vulgate, Mark 16:19
Dominus quidem postquam locutus est eis adsumptus est in caelum et sedit a
63. It seems most likely that
Tatian originally composed his work in either Greek or Syriac. On his use of
Mark 16:9–20, see Diatessaron 53–54 (ANF 9:125–29).
64. Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the
New Testament, 322.
65. The question Eusebius was
addressing was how it is that Matthew appears to say that Jesus was raised "late
on the Sabbath" (Matthew 28:1) when Mark says he was raised "early on
the first day of the week" (Mark 16:2). Though Eusebius will not use this
argument, the Greek adverb ὀψέ that is used in Matthew and is often
translated as "late" can also be translated as "after." See
Henry G. Liddell and Robert Scott, comp., Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed.
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), s.v. ὀψέ. Therefore, many translations of Matthew
28:1 read "after the Sabbath" and remove any apparent discrepancy.
66. Eusebius, Questions to
Marinus 1.1. Translation is adapted from James A. Kelhoffer, "The
Witness of Eusebius’ ad Marinum and Other Christian Writings to
Text-Critical Debates concerning the Original Conclusion to Mark’s Gospel," Zeitschrift
für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 92
67. Jerome, Epistle 120.3;
translation is mine (emphasis added).
68. Croy, Mutilation of
Mark’s Gospel, 12, 18–32.
69. Robert H. Gundry, Mark: A
Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,
70. For these and other examples
of narrative fulfillment in Mark, see Croy, Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel,
71. However, these same codices
also contain the "longer" ending of Mark. The vocabulary used in this
ending is totally foreign to Mark and suggests that this ending is definitely
non-Markan and a later interpolation.
72. Translation from Metzger and
of the New Testament, 81.
73. For a detailed description
and analysis of 𝔓75,
see Comfort and Barrett, Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 501–608
(see p. 554 on the missing verse in this codex).
74. Comfort, New Testament
Text and Translation Commentary, 221.
75. Ambrose of Milan (ca. AD
339–397) was one of the most famous Latin church fathers of the fourth
century. Though he had grown up in a Christian family, he was not baptized
until immediately before his ordination as bishop of Milan in either 373 or
374. As bishop he would play an important role in the conversion of Augustine
(ca. AD 386). He wrote a number of treatises and left behind numerous
letters. See Oxford
Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. "Ambrose," 49–50.
76. In his gospel, Luke never
mentions Gethsemane, only the Mount of Olives (v. 39). Gethsemane is
mentioned only in Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32.
77. 𝔓69 is otherwise
known as P.Oxy. XXIV 2383. The editor of the papyrus, E. G. Turner, noted that
while verses 43 and 44 are not on the papyrus, the lacuna between verse 41 and
verse 45 is too small to accommodate them. "The scribe’s large omission on
the recto is easier to explain (ll. 3–4 nn.) if his exemplar did not in
fact contain verses 43–44, the incident of the appearance of the angel
and of the bloody sweat." E. Lobel, C. H. Roberts, E. G. Turner, and
J. W. B. Barns, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Part XXIV (London: Egypt
Exploration Society, 1957), 2. More recently, see Kurt Aland, "Alter und
Enstehung des D-Textes im Neuen Testament. Betrachtungen zu P69 und 0171,"
papirològica Ramón Roca-Puig, ed. Sebastià Janeras (Barcelona:
Fundacio Salvador Vives Casajuana, 1987), 57–60; and Thomas Wayment, "A
New Transcription of P. Oxy. 2383 (𝔓69)," Novum Testamentum 50 (2008):
78. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 151.
79. This parchment fragment
contains Matthew 10:17–23, 25–32 and Luke 22:4–50,
52–56, 61, 63–64. On this fragment, see Comfort and Barrett, Earliest New
Testament Greek Manuscripts, 635–41. This parchment codex is
broken off right before verse 44, so there is no way to know if it also
included verse 43.
80. After Codex Sinaiticus (א) was
completed, the first corrector (א∗)
of the text, who was a contemporary of the scribe who produced Luke (in fact,
he was the diorthōtēs [διορθωτής]
who checked the manuscript before it left the scriptorium), added these verses
because they were missing. Subsequently the verses were removed by a later
only to be restored by an even later corrector (א2). In my opinion,
Codex Sinaiticus (א) ought
to be considered a genuine witness for Luke 22:43–44.
81. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with
Trypho 103.8 (ANF 1:251). My translation is based on the Greek text
in Miroslav Marcovich, ed., Iustini Martyris Dialogus cum Tryphone (Berlin: de
Gruyter, 1997), 249 (103.8).
82. While Justin does not
specifically mention blood (αἷµα) (as Luke does in 22:44b: θρόµβοι
αἵµατος), θρόµβος usually carries the
connotation of blood. See Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. θρόµβος;
and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early
Christian Literature, rev. Frederick W. Danker, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), s.v. θρόµβος.
83. Irenaeus, Against
Heresies 3.22.2 (ANF 1:454). The accompanying Greek in this section
84. Elsewhere in his writings,
Irenaeus seems to allude to Luke 22:43–44. See Epideixis tou apostolikou kērygmatos 75 (Proof
of the Apostolic Preaching), Ancient Christian Writers 16, trans.
Joseph P. Smith (New York: Newman, 1952), 96.
85. Greek text taken from G. Nathanael Bonwetsch and Hans Achelis, eds., Hippolytus Werke: Erster Band, Exegetische und Homiletische Schriften (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1897), 146.
86. In addition to Justin,
Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, there might be one other Christian writer of
relatively early date (pre–fourth century) who also makes reference to
the story of Jesus’s suffering in Gethsemane. A fragmentary commentary on Luke
22:42–43 attributed to Dionysius of Alexandria (d. ca. AD 264) discusses
Luke 22:43–44 as it currently appears. Despite the metaphorical
interpretation of Jesus’s sweating blood, it would be very significant if the
author was indeed Dionysius of Alexandria, since it would securely establish
third-century evidence of these verses in Luke. On this commentary, see Charles
L. Feltoe, The
Letters and Other Remains of Dionysius of Alexandria (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1904), 229–31. For Dionysius’s exegesis of
these verses, see pp. 241–45.
87. Hilary, On the Trinity 10.41.1. My translation is based on the Latin text from Patrologia
88. Jerome, Against the
Pelagians 2.16. My translation is based on the Latin text from Patrologia
89. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 151.
90. Raymond E. Brown, The Death of
the Messiah, From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion
Narratives in the Four Gospels (New York: Doubleday, 1994),
1:183–85. Brown writes, "While clearly the evidence available does
not settle the issue of whether Luke wrote 22:43–44, in my judgment the
overall import of the types of evidence or reasoning discussed above favors
Lucan authorship; and henceforth I shall write as if Luke were the author"
91. In Greco-Roman society,
Socrates was often held up as the ideal model for the ways persons ought to act
and speak in the face of imminent death since he manifested (at least according
to Plato’s Apology)
virtue, equanimity, and courage when he was condemned by the Athenian boule. On
Greco-Roman ideals for death, see Jan Willen van Henten and Friedrich Avemarie, Martyrdom
and Noble Death: Selected Texts from Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian Antiquity (London: Routledge, 2002), 9–41.
92. Translation adapted from Julian III,
trans. Wilmer C. Wright, Loeb Classical Library 157 (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1923), 431 (frag. 4); compare R. Joseph Hoffmann, ed.
and trans., Julian’s
"Against the Galileans" (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books,
2004), 144 (frag. 7).
93. 93. Since
Julian mentions the angel, he is clearly aware of Luke 22:43 in the manuscript
tradition he was using. On this point see T. Baarda, "Luke
22:42–47a, the Emperor Julian as a Witness to the Text of Luke," Novum
Testamentum 30/4 (1988): 289–96.
94. Translation adapted slightly from R. Joseph Hoffmann, ed. and
trans., Porphyry’s "Against the Christians":
The Literary Remains (Amherst,
NY: Prometheus Books, 1994), 40.
95. On the dating of Celsus’s
treatise, see H. U. Rosenbaum, "Zur Datierung von Celsus’ ΑΛΗΘΗΣ
ΛΟΓΟΣ," Vigilae christianae 26
(1972):102–11; Jeffrey Hargis, Against the Christians: The Rise of Early
Anti-Christian Polemic (New York: Lang, 1999), 20–24.
96. Origen, Against Celsus 2.24, in Origen, Contra Celsum, trans. Henry Chadwick (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1980), 88.
97. Origen, Against Celsus 2.27, in Origen, Contra Celsum, 90.
98. Claire Clivaz, "The
Angel and the Sweat Like ‘Drops of Blood’ (Lk 22:43–44): 𝔓69 and f13," Harvard
Theological Review 98/4 (2005): 429–32.
99. Arius apud Epiphanius, Refutation
of All Heresies 16.19.4.
100. Bart D. Ehrman and Mark A.
Plunkett, "The Angel and the Agony: The Textual Problem of Luke
22:43–44," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 45 (1983): 401–16.
101. Ehrman and Plunkett, "Angel
and the Agony," 416.
102. Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C) is defective in this part of the manuscript, so it is not
possible to determine whether or not it contained this verse.
103. Except for Codex Freerianus
(W) and Codex Bezae (D), these manuscripts omit verse 4 along with John 5:3b ("waiting
for the moving of the water"). 𝔓66 is a papyrus codex
that contains large sections of the Gospel of John (1:1–6:11;
6:35–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7;
16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17) and dates to either
the end of the second century or beginning of the third century. On this codex,
see Comfort and Barrett, Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts,
104. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 179.
105. For the later patristic
evidence for this verse, see Gordon D. Fee, "On the Inauthenticity of John
5:3b–4," Evangelical Quarterly 54/4 (1982): 214–15.
106. On Tatian’s use of John 5:4,
see Diatessaron 22.12 (ANF 9:77).
107. Tertullian, On Baptism 5.5 (ANF 3:671). Translation from Ernest Evans, Tertullian’s Homily on Baptism (London:
SPCK 1964), 15.
108. It needs to be kept in mind
that Tertullian does not actually cite John and that his phrasing is by no
means a quotation or citation but more appropriately an allusion: piscinam
Bethsaidam angelus interveniens commovebat. All the same, since John
5 is the only chapter in the Gospels that mentions the pool of Bethesda,
Tertullian almost certainly had this gospel in mind when he made the reference.
109. Zane C. Hodges, "The
Angel at Bethesda–John 5:4," Bibliotheca sacra 136 (1979):
110. All the same, some restraint
needs to be exercised before invoking this text-critical principle. If a
passage makes no sense, one should not uncritically suppose that it must be
older than another rendering that makes more sense, for one should always
assume that the author of any text is seeking from the start to be understood.
111. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 179; Fee, "On the
Inauthenticity of John 5:3b–4," 210–13.
112. Of interest is Bruce R.
McConkie’s comment on this verse: "No doubt the pool of Bethesda was a
mineral spring whose waters had some curative virtue. But any notion that an
angel came down and troubled the waters, so that the first person thereafter
entering them would be healed, was pure superstition. Healing miracles are not
wrought in any such manner. If we had the account as John originally wrote it,
it would probably contain an explanation that the part supposedly played by an
angel was merely a superstitious legend comparable to some that have since been
devised by some churches of Christendom." Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New
Testament Commentary, Volume 1: The Gospels (Salt Lake City:
Bookcraft, 1973), 188.
113. The literature on the
authenticity/inauthenticity of this story in the Gospel of John is fairly
extensive. For a cursory bibliography, see Daniel B. Wallace, "Reconsidering
‘The Story of Jesus and the Adulteress Reconsidered,’ " New Testament
Studies 39 (1993): 290 n. 2. For an LDS treatment, see Thomas
Wayment, "The Woman Taken in Adultery and the History of the New Testament
Canon," in The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ: From the Transfiguration
through the Triumphal Entry, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and
Thomas A. Wayment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006), 372–97.
114. Gary M. Burge, "A
Specific Problem in the New Testament Text and Canon: The Woman Caught in
Adultery (John 7:53–8:11)," Journal of the Evangelical Theological
Society 27/2 (1984): 142.
115. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 188.
116. This is the only manuscript
dating to before the eighth century that contains this story.
117. Augustine, On Adulterous
Marriages 2.6–7. Compare Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek
New Testament, 189.
118. Tertullian, On Modesty (ca. AD 220); Cyprian, Letter 55.20 (ca. AD 250).
119. Edwyn C. Hoskyns, The Fourth
Gospel (London: Faber and Faber, 1940), 674. Euthymius states that "accurate
copies" either omit the story or mark it with obeli.
120. Jerome, Against the
Pelagians 2.17. My translation is based on Latin text from Patrologia
121. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical
History 3.39.17 (NPNF 1:173), emphasis added (sometimes cited as Papias
Frag. 3.17). Translation is my own. See Michael W. Holmes, ed. and trans., The Apostolic
Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 3rd ed. (Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 740–41.
122. While the tenth-century world
chronicler Agapius of Hierapolis reports that Papias was in fact referring to
the story of the woman taken in adultery that is found in John, this is
probably his own inference and, because of its late date, should not
necessarily be taken at face value. See Holmes, Apostolic Fathers,
123. The so-called Gospel
according to the Hebrews (the title is not original) is believed to
have been an early second-century gospel produced in Alexandria and used
principally by Jewish Christians. It is known primarily from scattered references
by later Christian authors. See Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books That Did
Not Make It into the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
124. See Oxford
Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. "Didascalia
Apostolorum," 479. Though this text was originally written in Greek, it is
extant only in Syriac.
125. Constitutiones Apostolorum 2.24 (ANF 7:408). Because the Didascalia Apostolorum is embodied in the first six
books of the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions, I have selected this work for
126. Didymus, Commentary on
Ecclesiastes, 223.6b–13a. Translation from Bart D.
Ehrman, "Jesus and the Adulteress," New Testament Studies 34/1 (1988): 25.
127. Namely, breaking the Sabbath
(Numbers 15:33–36), idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:2–5), and rebellious
children (Deuteronomy 21:19–21).
128. On this last point, see
Wallace, "Reconsidering," 290–96.
129. Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C) and Codex Bezae (D) are damaged in this portion of Acts, so it
is not known if they contained this verse.
130. Codex Laudianus (E), named
after its former owner Archbishop William Laud, is a diglot manuscript assigned
to the sixth century that contains both a Latin text (left column) and a Greek
text (right column) of the book of Acts. On this codex, see Aland and Aland, Text of the
New Testament, 110.
131. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 315.
132. Irenaeus, Against
Heresies 3.12.8 (ANF 1:433).
133. 𝔓74 is a
seventh-century papyrus manuscript that contains large sections from Acts,
James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1–3 John, and Jude. It is an important witness for
Acts because it contains almost the entire book. On this manuscript, see Aland
and Aland, Text
of the New Testament, 101.
134. The KJV uses the diminutive
135. Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C) and Codex Bezae (D) are damaged in this portion of Acts, so it
is impossible to determine whether they contained this verse.
136. While it appears that verse
29 is absent from 𝔓74,
that portion of the manuscript is damaged and riddled with lacunae, preventing
any definitive conclusion. The same holds for Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus
(C) and Codex Bezae (D), which are also damaged in this section of Acts.
137. There is debate about whether
or not the name-title Christ was originally a part of this verse since it is
not attested in the earliest manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Sinaiticus
138. Though the final doxology
(vv. 25–27) occurs with minor variations in Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex
Codex Alexandrinus (A), and Codex Bezae (D), there has been some debate about
whether Paul actually appended it to his original letter or whether it was
added shortly thereafter when Paul’s letters were collected and read in various
early Christian communities. See Raymond F. Collins, "The Case of a
Wandering Doxology: Rom 16,25–27," in New Testament Textual Criticism
and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel, ed. A. Denaux (Leuven,
Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2002), 293–303.
139. Codex Bezae (D) does not
contain any of the Johannine epistles (1–3 John). Codex Ephraemi Syri
Rescriptus (C) is damaged in this section of the codex, so it is not possible
to determine how 1 John 5:7–8 read in it.
140. This reference comes from the
fragments of Clement preserved in Latin by the sixth-century Roman statesman
and monastic founder Cassiodorus (ca. AD 485–580). See fragment 3 (ANF 2:576).
141. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 648.
142. Though some have tried to
argue that Cyprian, in The Unity of the Catholic Church 6, refers to
1 John 5:7a–8b, this is not correct. See Maurice Bévenot, trans. and
ed., St. Cyprian:
The Lapsed, The Unity of the Catholic Church (Westminster, MD:
Newman, 1957), 109, n. 53.
143. Specifically, Codex
Fuldensis, one of the earliest and most important manuscripts of the Vulgate
(copied about AD 541–46), does not contain these verses. Neither does
Codex Amiatinus, the earliest nearly complete copy of the entire Latin Vulgate
copied before AD 716.
144. This designation refers to
how the interpolated material neatly forms a short clause within the narrative
flow of the two verses.
145. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 648.
146. Metzger, Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 648.
147. Though this manuscript is
dated to the tenth century, it is not certain whether the addition of
1 John 5:7b–8a was made immediately after the manuscript was written
or a considerable time later.
148. For these manuscripts, see
Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 647–48.
149. H. J. De Jonge, "Erasmus
and the Comma Johanneum," Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 56/4 (1980): 382–86.
150. Erasmus, Controversies
with Edward Lee, Collected Works of Erasmus 72, ed. Jane E. Philips,
trans. Erika Rummel (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 404.
151. It is designated by the
number 61 and is currently housed at Trinity College in Dublin. See Aland and
of the New Testament, 129.
152. J. Rendel Harris, The Origin of
the Leicester Codex of the New Testament (London: Clay, 1887),
153. Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the
New Testament, 146–47.
154. De Jonge, "Erasmus and
the Comma Johanneum," 385.
155. Erasmus’s notes on these
verses are too long to cite in their entirety.
156. Even if every single invalid
variant attested in the KJV NT were counted, not only those variants (treated
in this examination) that affect an entire verse or passage but also those that
affect parts of a verse or a few words, the ratio would probably not exceed 2%
of the total NT text.