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Proofs Of The Bible's Corruption

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“Biblical Corruptions: Extremely Real, Extremely Pervasive, Extremely Theologically Significant” by me, Part 1

 

“All of the books of the New Testament had been written by [the second and third centuries] but there were lots of other books as well, also claiming to be by Jesus’s own apostles—other gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses having very different perspectives from those found in the books that eventually came to be called the New Testament. The New Testament itself emerged out of these conflicts over God (or the gods), as one group of believers acquired more converts than all the others and decided which books should be included in the canon of scripture. During the second and third centuries, however, there was no agreed-upon canon—and no agreed-upon theology. Instead, there was a wide range of diversity: diverse groups asserting diverse theologies based on diverse written texts, all claiming to be written by apostles of Jesus.

 

Some of these Christian groups insisted that God had created this world; others maintained that the true God had not created this world (which is, after all, an evil place), but that it was the result of a cosmic disaster. Some of these groups insisted that the Jewish scriptures were given by the one true God; others claimed that the Jewish scriptures belong to the inferior God of the Jews, who was not the one true God. Some of these groups insisted that Jesus Christ was the one Son of God who was both completely human and completely divine; other groups insisted that Christ was completely human and not at all divine; others maintained that he was completely divine and not at all human; and yet others asserted that Jesus Christ was two things—a divine being (Christ) and a human being (Jesus). Some of these groups believed that Christ’s death brought about the salvation of the world; others maintained that Christ’s death had nothing to do with the salvation of this world; yet other groups insisted that Christ had never actually died.

 

Each and every one of these viewpoints—and many others besides—were topics of constant discussion, dialogue, and debate in the early centuries of the church, while Christians of various persuasions tried to convince others of the truth of their own claims. Only one group eventually ‘won out’ in these debates. It was this group that decided what the Christian creeds would be: the creeds would affirm that there is only one God, the Creator; that Jesus his Son is both human and divine; and that salvation came by his death and resurrection. This was also the group that decided which books would be included in the canon of scripture. By the end of the fourth century, most Christians agreed that the canon was to include the four Gospels, Acts, the letters of Paul, and a group of other letters such as 1 John and 1 Peter, along with the Apocalypse of John. And who had been copying these texts? Christians from the congregations themselves, Christians who were intimately aware of and even involved in the debates over the identity of God, the status of the Jewish scriptures, the nature of Christ, and the effects of his death.” [1]

 

Those interminable Roman numeral-numbered pages which open books are so tempting to skip, aren’t they? But just for once let us take a look at what it says at the start of the New King James Version of The Bible. “The Hebrew Bible has come down to us through the scrupulous care of ancient scribes who copied the original text in successive generations,” it reads. “By the sixth century A.D. the scribes were succeeded by a group known as the Masoretes, who continued to preserve the sacred Scriptures for another five hundred years in a form known as the Masoretic text.”

 

That certainly sounds reassuring—until it’s contradicted a mere moment later: “Significant variations are recorded in the footnotes.” Now wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute here! If the text has been so faithfully preserved, how then can there be significant variations? The same thing happens in the section on the New Testament text. It begins with almost a whole page of apologetics arguing for the preservation of the manuscripts; this too is contradicted by what follows, wherein one sentence begins with the words “where significant variations occur in the New Testament Greek manuscripts”. (Another sentence there goes, “Important textual variants in the Old Testament are identified in a standard form.”)

 

But the real shock comes when we get to this part: “It is most important to emphasize that fully eighty-five percent of the New Testament text is the same in the Textus Receptus, the Alexandrian Text, and the Majority Text.” [2] That’s it?! Only eighty-five?!! Is it just me or are they pulling the old “45% less fat!” trick of marketing department gurus? Let’s do the math. I’ve opened up a copy of The New Living Translation to a random page of Luke [3]and found that there are about fifty-eight verses on it. What these people are telling me, then, is that there could be nine altered verses on this one little page! Which ones are they, I wonder? How do I know that one of them isn’t Luke 1:35? That’s the verse that says, “The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.’”

 

An educated Christian reader will no doubt respond that most of the altered material in The Bible, by far, consists of *inconsequential* corruptions—the ancient equivalent of typos. And for the most part that is indeed true. The alterations are generally meaningless—as far as bite-into-it-with-your-teeth physical proof has confirmed, and *for the most part*. You’ll notice, of course, that we’re still early on in the essay. That is because there are three problems that should keep this Christian from sitting back and relaxing. Bear in mind the title. It’s not a bluff!

 

First off we don’t have any original manuscripts to compare the extant versions we do have to, nor even any reliable way of estimating what these original versions said. There are just *so* many variations overall. There is such a thing as death by a thousand cuts. In fact the details regarding two of our prime manuscript sources in particular, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, may turn your stomach when you hear about them later. For now let me sum it up with the bottom line: that the whole thing is in fact such an utter fiasco that prominent biblical scholar after prominent biblical scholar—William Petersen, Elden Epp, AnneMarie Luijendijk, Kim Haines-Eitzen, David Parker—have argued that at this point we can no longer meaningfully *speak of* the original versions of any New Testament books in the first place! [4]

 

Second, there is a great deal of relevance in the context and the circumstances of each corruption. Hypothetically speaking say that there were only some ten or fifteen odd cases in the entire textual history of The Bible wherein any alteration ever occurred that was more major than a scribe forgetting to literally cross a T or dot an I (or rather do the equivalent of this in the original language—you know, do something like fill in the middle of that Greek letter called a theta). How if those ten or fifteen passages just happened to be all of the very same verses that Christians generally insist confirm the alleged divinity of Jesus? And how if all of these alterations were made to early manuscripts that spawned copies which were themselves copied, et cetera, until the final end product was The Alexandrian Text or something else used in Bible translations today? And as you shall soon see despite there being massively more than just ten or fifteen major corruptions (some of which are massively larger than a single passage!) something like that has actually occurred.

 

And as you shall also soon see even a single mark on a theta *can* make a huge difference to the meaning of a very important verse—relating to the alleged divinity of Jesus.

 

The third point I’ve already explained in passing, just a moment ago, but it does deserve much attention. There are indeed instances when tremendously long, vast swaths of text have been altered—and worse. And these aren’t the passages from John and Mark you might be thinking of, although I do need to go over those as well. The situation is much direr than you probably know. We’re not talking about info that merely checking the footnotes of your Bible can fill you in on. No, footnotes are made selectively and modern Bibles themselves seem to be pastiches of manuscripts made, if not *just as* selectively, then at the very least because those supposedly reliable texts like the Masoretic one are obviously not so well preserved after all. Just read this other introduction, to The New International Version:

 

“For the Old Testament the standard Hebrew text, the Masoretic text…was used throughout. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain material bearing on an earlier stage of the Hebrew text. They were consulted, as were the Samaritan Pentateuch and the ancient scribal traditions relating to textual changes. Sometimes a variant Hebrew reading in the margin of the Masoretic Text was followed instead of the text itself. Such instances, being variants within the Masoretic tradition, are not specified by footnotes. In rare cases, words in the consonantal text were divided differently from the way they appear in the Masoretic Text. Footnotes indicate this. The translators also consulted the more important early versions—the Septuagint; Aquila; Symmachus and Theodotion; the Vulgate; the Syriac Peshitta; the Targums; and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of Rome. Readings from these versions were occasionally followed where the Masoretic Text seemed doubtful and where accepted principles of textual criticism showed that one or more of these textual witnesses appeared to provide the correct reading. Such instances are footnoted.” [5]

 

But on with the specifics. Let us begin at The Bible’s own beginning, with The Torah (that is, the Genesis through Deuteronomy section, also known as The Pentateuch). Consider these two passages from Genesis:

 

“Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Chapter 32, verses 24-28)

 

“God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, who appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments: and let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hand, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

 

And they journeyed: and a terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan (the same is Beth-el), he and all the people that were with him. And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el; because there God was revealed unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. And Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried below Beth-el under the oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bacuth. And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but israel shall be thy name: and he called his name israel.” (Chapter 35, verses 1-10)

 

Now what’s likelier: that one man went through the same renaming ceremony twice (the second occasion somehow involving a guy who’s *already* called israel receiving the name “israel”), or that what we have here is alternate versions of how Jacob came to gain that name? It’s because of things like that, as well as a number of sundry linguistic and historical arguments, that in the intellectual world the idea of The Torah having only one author isn’t widely accepted anymore outside of strictly evangelical circles. I mean, how *could* that be the case? One author would tell one tale.

 

So how could a thing like this happen, you might ask? How is it that different texts got mingled into one? Let *me* tell you a story now—specifically the circumstances of how the film “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” was written. I assure you that I don’t mean anything sacrilegious by the analogy. It just happens to be the best one I know of, as chance would have it. And the scenario you’re going to hear about happens all the time, with all sorts of different films. It’s an everyday thing, a fact of life out there in Hollywood. The purpose of *any* analogy is only to clarify the new or obscure by relating it to the commonplace or familiar, and it’s easy enough to explain how a movie script gets corrupted. That’s all.

 

Wes Craven (who didn’t even want the original “Nightmare” to have any sequels in the first place) was brought on to be the screenwriter of what was at first proposed to be the final film of a trilogy. Craven, however, was unable to do the job entirely by himself as he was tied up with another project at the time so he had another screenwriter named Bruce Wagner assist him. They came up with a script about suicidal mental patients turning out to be targets of Freddy Krueger. The actual writing itself basically had to be done by Wagner, who took a plot that was mainly Craven’s and worked out the specifics of it.

 

If you think that’s the end of it all then I wish I knew as little of the way The Hollywood Machine works as you do. It seems almost as though studio executives have some unspoken etiquette against letting sleeping dogs lie. New Line Cinema producers Bob Shaye and Sara Risher didn’t feel that Craven and Wagner’s screenplay had enough commercial appeal so they hired two more writers, Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, to completely rework the whole thing. In the end only some three-tenths or so of the original Craven-Wagner script, according to Risher, remained in the final cut. [6] And that’s not even taking into account how much of an impact improvisations and editing had on the production, if Robert Englund’s interview remarks are any indication. And remember: even the first draft was more Wagner than Craven. So by the time the film hit the screen little more than the general outline of the plot was very much the work of Wes Craven, when you get down to the nitty gritty.

 

And yet, funnily, people will always seem to shunt everyone but him to the side when they speak of the movie. It’s as though it had no other authors at all, let alone four. Why is this? Because of human nature. Because “Wes Craven” is a famous name. (Frank Darabont wrote “The Shawshank Redemption”, which has often topped The Internet Movie Database’s best movie ever polls, but I don’t think this fact is well known.)

 

One more thing needs to be mentioned before I move on. A bizarre misconception ended up occurring which served to obscure the drastic rewriting of the film and no doubt further exaggerate in the popular consciousness the degree of Craven’s involvement. (Apparently this began with a misunderstood remark from Craven himself.) Practically nothing, supposedly, was revised by Darabont and Russell apart from some character names. There were no significant changes. Whereas in actual fact the different versions of the screenplay were so worlds apart that one of the main characters, Nancy, wasn’t even originally going to be working as a doctor at the asylum: indeed she wasn’t a doctor at all. And that’s not even the most major difference I could cite. Ironically one of the name changes actually serves as a good example of the all but inevitable contradictions that the tacking on of new authors and of rewrites tends to add to a story. In the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” Nancy’s father is named Don; here he’s John instead, just like the actor who plays him. [6]

 

The reason I’ve spent almost 550 words belaboring you with movie trivia is because this little piece of production history illustrates the whole situation fairly well. In fact it applies to biblical corruption in general to a fair extent. The Torah, despite allegedly being the sole work of Moses, bears signs of having had, due to late editorial tampering, four different authors at different times—and that was before further last minute edits changed the text even more. The more writers it gained the more of a clashing of styles there was (although this isn’t as evident in translations). The more writers it gained the more contradictory it became. The more writers it gained the more the original vision was lost. And yet few laypeople seem to know it—and those who have heard the allegation are often stuck on the misconception that the only changes the text ever suffered are minor ones which didn’t affect anything.

 

The Torah we’re left with now is a masterpiece that’s definitely the work of skillful authors, sure—but not primarily the inspired work of the *original* Author. And even someone unfamiliar with the books’ true history, if they’re paying attention, might spot this by watching for the inconsistencies. By recognizing that there are indeed significant variations.

 

Here’s a quick rundown of the situation. The following brief definition is derived from the website of a Jew who (for obvious reasons, and as you’ll be able to plainly see for yourself) has trouble accepting the facts and is trying his best to put a hyperbolic positive spin on a virtually hopeless situation:

 

“The Graf/Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis was like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution of Biblical criticism. Its revolutionary claim profoundly influenced scholarship, and was widely accepted. Today scholars now feel that it leaves some questions unanswered, and now it tends to be only accepted with some reservations. What was once thought to be sloppy editing now is seen in a different light. The accuracy of the text, the original sources and their transmission has received more respect.

 

It identified four main sources in the Torah: J, E, P and D…

 

J is the Yahwist author, using the YHVH name (pronounced Adonai, and translated as Lord) for God. J is a consumate [sic] story teller (See the Book of J, a new translation of thoses [sic] stories identified as being by J). God is described in human terms. Characters are very real, described with emotions, strengths and weaknesses. Stories are people/earth centered.

 

E is for Elohim (translated as God). E writes more like a historian; God is omniscient and omnipotent and in control. People are not flawed (as in J).

 

Both J and E lived before the Assyrian conquest. J was from Judah (848-722 BCE). E composed in israel (922-722 BCE). J & E were later combined into one text.

 

P is for Priestly. P is concerned with the cult, the Tabernacle, sacrifices and levitical [sic] duties. P is also the geneologist [sic]. P was most probably a priest descended from Aaron, living sometime between 722 and 609 BCE, probably during the reign of King Hezekiah.

 

D is for Deuteronomy…Deuteronomy was authored in the time of King Josiah. The author believed that if you follow God, good will happen, but if you disobey God’s rule, you will be punished.

 

Deuteronomy (and the books of the former prophets Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) may have been written by the prophet Jeremiah (or his scribe Baruch).

 

To pull it all together, they also refer to R, Redactor. The Redactor was the editor(s) who pieced together these 4 traditions. Friedman along with others, argues that Ezra was the final redactor who pieced together P, JE, and D.

 

If you want, you can believe that Moses, Ezra, or some anonymous scribe was the Redactor. Whoever R was, the final result was one Torah that became the authoritative text that was what Jews have believed was a record of God’s revelation to the Jewish people.” [7]

 

You may be curious at this point (I sure know *I* am) as to how any historian can affix these definite dates long after Moses’s time to completely anonymous authors when both the redactor(s) and the untrustworthy copyists came from later eras. israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, despite ceding that archaeological evidence is “the only source of information on the biblical period that was not extensively emended, edited, or censored by many generations of biblical scribes”—that, in fact, new layers were still being added to the Exodus saga for centuries after the time of King Josiah [8]—offer the following surprisingly (if perhaps unintentionally) forthcoming reason:

 

“The specific references in the text to cities, neighboring peoples, and familiar places are precisely those aspects that distinguish the patriarchal stories from completely mythical folk-tales. They are crucially important for identifying the date and message of the text. In other words, the ‘anachronisms’ are far more important for dating and understanding the meaning and historical context of the stories of the patriarchs than the search for ancient bedouin [sic] mathematical calculations of the patriarchs’ ages and genealogies.” [9]

 

In other words, “We historians *have* to make *some* sort of jump to conclusions, don’t we? Otherwise we’ll be forced to accept the fact that we actually don’t know much.” But don’t get complacent and start making predictable remarks about the whole Documentary Hypothesis itself being along the same lines: there are just too many reasons to believe in it. Too many by far. At the very least we can confidently say that the Torah we have now is the work of multiple authors.

 

For one thing when scholars compare the choices of personal pronouns between those sections that are considered to be from the P text and those that are reckoned to be part of J or E they find something very interesting. In the former the word “ani” (meaning “I”) shows up about 130 times but there is only one use of “anokhi” (“we”). The ratio is nowhere remotely near this imbalanced in J/E. [10] That is only a small sample, one of a great many distinct differences in the writing style.

 

Consider also chapter twelve of the book of Numbers. Aaron and Miriam sin equally here, in the same way, and at the same time:

 

“Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, Hath Jehovah indeed spoken only with Moses? hath he not spoken also with us? And Jehovah heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” (Verses 1-3)

 

And what happens as a result of this sin? Miriam gets severely punished whereas Aaron not only pretty much gets away scot free, he’s actually depicted as somewhat of a *hero*, the way he magnanimously begs for mercy for his poor, poor sister. In this day and age I wonder if the casual reader is apt to see the passage as a case of archaic sexism. It’s not. Miriam is never given the shaft like that anywhere else. The whole thing comes right out of nowhere, to the point where this same casual reader will likely find it quite a shock. And there are all sorts of women with strong leadership roles or who are otherwise positively depicted throughout both Testaments—Jael, Judith, Anna, and so forth. No, the likeliest explanation is that this ludicrously unbalanced depiction is the result of the P author having a personal bias resulting from his own descent from Aaron. [11]

 

And if you still don’t believe me then note how the passage describes Moses as the humblest man on earth. (In fact The New American Standard Bible even uses the very *word* “humble”.) Is that how humble people are likely to speak of *themselves*? But if, on the other hand, the passage has been authored or tampered with by a man with the perspective of someone speaking of a revered figure who’s now long since dead…someone like, say, a Levitical priest writing many generations after the fact…ah! Now there you go!

 

Consider also, if you will, chapter 105 of the book of Psalms. Its list of the ten plagues looks incomplete, doesn’t it? If you’re going to come *that* close to giving a full account, why stop so very short? It’s not like the author just rattled off two or three plagues to give you the general idea and left it at that. Then it would look quite intentional. No, this list was *almost* complete yet *not* complete, and it’s part of an otherwise pretty comprehensive narrative summary. As such the passage can well be (and sometimes is) seen as evidence of the fusing of the J and P accounts in Exodus. [12] Of course there is an alternative. In this case it could be the book of Psalms instead that’s suffered a corruption.

 

I can’t continue forever like this. Volume after volume has been written (and mostly by non-Muslims) on the evidence for how various separate texts were spliced together into the Torah we have now. And I haven’t yet done more than lightly grace on the subject of *further* corruptions caused by the alterations to The Masoretic Text and what not—you know, those preserved-yet-not-preserved manuscripts which both do and don’t have significant variations?

 

But how much, I wonder, does any of this matter to the average Christian anyway? After all wasn’t The Torah there just for the sake of some “old covenant” which somehow got completely overturned by Christ’s alleged sacrifice? Never mind these clear-as-crystal words here:

 

“Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

I quoted that not just to show how much the idea of a “new covenant” contradicts the purported words of Jesus himself, nor just to show how shaky the idea should begin to look to the informed that not one penstroke of The Torah can ever disappear for as long as the world endures, but mainly because when it comes to the matter of textual corruption this passage is significant in its own right. Tertullian, you see, cited a version of Luke 16:17 which contained this very same speech. [13]Can you find any trace of it in the version of the verse we have now? Doesn’t it seem to you that the line was probably removed on purpose because it didn’t square with standard Pauline theology and its insistence on a “new covenant”?

 

So as you can see The New Testament is no more free from corruption than The Torah is. One of the examples which will pop up the most often when these matters are discussed is 1 John 5:8. In fact modern translations typically don’t even render that verse the same way anymore. The New Revised Standard Version, for instance, reads:

 

“There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.”

 

But the footnote still insists on saying:

 

“A few other authorities read (with variations) There are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth:”

 

In Bible translations there are no “long since disproven authorities, hardly worth mentioning at all”, only these vague *other* authorities. It’s a sneaky, low, underhanded tactic deliberately intended to create a false sense of ambiguity. The idea is that the ignorant layperson comes away from the text with the impression of some ever ongoing debate constantly raging through the papers biblical scholars publish. Everything looks 50/50 when everything always gets pigeonholed into the same category of “other ancient authorities”. In actual fact you’ll be pretty hard pressed to find any *living* authority who will dispute that the original King James reading of, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one,” is based on a forgery. As Adam Clarke’s commentary put it:

 

“It is likely this verse is not genuine. It is wanting in every manuscript of this letter written before the invention of printing, one excepted, the Codex Montfortii, in Trinity College, Dublin: the others which omit this verse amount to one hundred and twelve. It is missing in both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Aethiopic, the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonian, etc., in a word, in all the ancient versions but the Vulgate; and even of this version many of the most ancient and correct MSS. have it not. It is wanting also in all the ancient Greek fathers; and in most even of the Latin.” [13]

 

“Very well, then,” the Christian reader might tell me, “but that’s just one verse. The Trinity doctrine is established all up and down The Bible.” What, you mean in places like Matthew 28:19? Eusebius cited that verse on twenty-one different occasions and never once in a form that mentioned any Father, Son or Holy Spirit. Rather he would just leave it at, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.” [13]

 

“Piddle sticks!” the Christian now tells me, “What about 2 Corinthians 13:14? *That* verse mentions all three parts of the Trinity as well!” I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree yet again. 2 Corinthians, as it so happens, wasn’t originally a single text either. In fact the only difference between the situation here and the one with The Torah is that 2 Corinthians *does* appear to have had one author at the very beginning. It’s just that it started out as at least two different letters of Paul’s, and maybe as many as five, before getting pieced together into a sort of subjectively made collage—subjectively made by later scribes and not by Paul himself, and many years after the fact. This has been widely known amongst biblical scholars for over a century now, though it’s hardly public knowledge elsewhere. Moreover there is even a distinct possibility that *all* of Paul’s epistles come from a single lost ancient codex which was reedited (which is of course another way of saying “corrupted”) by its collector. [4]There is simply no telling how many contributors there were to any individual sentence of 2 Corinthians—or for that matter *anything* Paul wrote.

 

“But but but,” they might now say, “what of Acts 20:28? Does it not say, ‘Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood’?”

 

Yes, it does say that—in the King James. But in Codex Alexandrinus, as well as other ancient sources, the key words read “the Church of the Lord, which he obtained by his own blood”. [14]The Lord? Yes. God? No. If you find this to be hairsplitting then I urge you to remember the obvious: somebody early on in the history of the Christian church did indeed find the matter to be so utterly important that he was driven (by desperation?) to change what he thought was the transmission of the very Word of God itself. It would appear that this issue of terminology was not thought to involve a very fine distinction back then! Because the difference between “lord” and “God” in ancient Greek (“kurios” and “ho theos” respectively) wasn’t something you could easily produce with an accidental slip of the pen. Although even accidents can still end up having the same sort of effect anyhow. Take 1 Timothy 3:16. The New King James Version reads:

 

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.”

 

Let’s look at the footnote. It says, “NU-Text reads ‘Who’.” No detail is provided beyond these few, confusing words. Once again the makers of the translation are trying to stir up false doubt in the reader’s mind about the odds being 50/50 regarding whether the original version said “who was manifested in the flesh” or “God was manifested in the flesh”. Quite the contrary: we know very well that it was “who”.

 

Many of the Greek manuscripts, you see, used abbreviations for sacred names like God’s. His own abbreviation was a theta sigma (the equivalent of T.H.S.; I’m guessing it was short for the word “theos”) with a line drawn over the letters. In one of the older manuscripts of 1 Timothy some ink ended up bleeding through from one side of the parchment to the other and the resultant smear landed squarely in the middle of an omicron, making it look like a theta instead. The difference between an omicron and a theta is pretty minute: the former is basically like an O and the latter is the same but with a little horizontal line in the middle. So the end result is that the Greek word for “who” turned into the abbreviation for “God”. All that was missing was that bar over the top to mark the letters as an abbreviation—which some later scribe came along and added for clarification, in a different type of ink.

 

Unfortunately the scribe happened to be adding that line to *Codex Alexandrinus*—one of the most influential and oft-translated manuscripts in the world. [14] It was *so* influential, in fact, that the same corruption wound up getting copied into four other early texts of 1 Timothy afterward. [15] Into The Bible it went. And, because of the meretriciousness of our translators, in The Bible it has stayed.

 

“But what of the opening of John?” the Christian reader may now be asking. “That part about how The Word was God, and then it became flesh and dwelt among us?” No dice. *It* wasn’t originally part of The Bible either. If by now some of you are starting to think this is all sounding suspiciously convenient, I’ll remind you of how much of a well-camouflaged (and tempting) trap circular reasoning can be for the human mind. *Of course* it’ll sound convenient: I happen to be right. The early believers in the Incarnation were quite naturally going to be in an awfully *in*convenient position when they found themselves without one theological or scriptural leg to stand on, and all it ever takes is a few bad apples and a little bad luck for forgeries to get written and slipped by unsuspecting eyes.

 

In this case it’s oft reckoned by biblical scholars (who are generally Christians, by the way) that

John 1:1-18 may very well have originally come from somewhere else and been inserted into the text. This is a very stylistically unique prologue we’re talking about here, isolated from the entire remainder of John by its grandiose poetic form. (Again this is the kind of thing that’s going to be more obvious in the original language.) An earthly narrative abruptly begins the instant the passage is over—one which could very well serve as a prologue on its own, I mean. (To be sure the two passages are awkwardly joined with an “and” but it hardly takes an expert forger to pull *that* one off.) And this “Word” moniker is never once used again anywhere else. [16] Besides which we already know that the passage was liable to be tampered with over the matter of the identity of Jesus in relation to “The Father”: in Codex Vaticanus there’s a textual variant of 1:18 which says “the unique God” instead of “the unique Son” (the latter phrase being what you’ll often see mistranslated as “only-begotten Son”). [17] [18]

Edited by IAmZamzam

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“Biblical Corruptions: Extremely Real, Extremely Pervasive, Extremely Theologically Significant” by me, Part 2

 

“Fine!” the Christian is now saying, “But there are so many *other* passages in John which are relevant to the subject of Jesus’s divinity, aren’t there? So many declarations Jesus makes all throughout it such as, ‘I and the Father are one,’ (chapter 10, verse 30) and, ‘Before Abraham was, I am!’ (chapter 8, verse 58)” This is yet another one of those convenient-for-all-of-the-right-reasons things, because the objective facts just happen to line up in such a way as to suggest that John might well be the single most corrupted text in the entire canon. Again this is not an idea that Muslims originated in the slightest. We weren’t even there. I didn’t *invent* any of these facts, I’m only citing them. And the fact of the matter is, if there ever was an original version of John that actually involved a firsthand account from an apostle who witnessed everything then for all we modern people know this early version might have borne more of a resemblance to “The Joy of Cooking” than to the Gospel of John we have now.

 

I wish this were common knowledge. It seems, though, that the only thing along these lines that’s anywhere at all in the vicinity of a well-known fact is that the story of the woman getting saved from being stoned as an adulterer (chapter 8, verses 1-11) is a fake. (“It’s probably the result of somebody jotting down a commonly heard tale in the margins of one manuscript,” you’ll often hear the writer add at this point, “and someone else mistaking the footnote for a passage that belongs in the main text and adding it in, thinking that it belongs there.” A likely story! But accidental or intentional a corruption is a corruption.) There are several reasons why we know that the passage isn’t real. “The story is not found in our oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John; its writing style is very different from what we find in the rest of John (including the stories immediately before and after); and it includes a large number of words and phrases that are otherwise alien to the Gospel.” [19]

 

That an entire biblical tale (let alone one of the most famous and thematically powerful ones) can be made up is disturbing enough. But like I said when it comes to John these mere eleven verses are only the beginning. The whole book could actually have been written in as many as four or five different stages, as explained at this link: http://historical-jesus.info/jnintro.html [20]

 

What, do you *still* not believe that The Bible has suffered gross changes to its text? Is all of this stuff too speculative to be convincing? Here, then, is some much more hard evidence. Codex Bezae, one of the oldest copies of The Bible in existence, contains so many severe variations that The Encyclopedia Britannica once said that it “seems almost to be a separate edition”. Its book of Acts in particular is about a tenth longer than ordinary manuscripts of Acts are. The only way of describing the situation which is accurate and fair would be to say that what we have on our hands here is a different version of Acts altogether, full stop. This codex also contains a lot of striking variations in the book of Luke, most particularly when it comes to chapters twenty-two and twenty-four—which, by the way, detail events involving the Crucifixion and Resurrection! [13]

 

And speaking of massive changes to Luke: it turns out that it didn’t even matter which nine verses on that page I randomly flipped to might have been tampered with—because biblical scholars have recognized for quite some time now that chapter three seems to have been the original beginning of the book anyway. [4]The same probably goes for Matthew. Its first couple of chapters may well have been added in at a later date. They’re missing from any and all alternate Ebionite versions of the book, and it seems from John 7:5 (yes, the text of John has been highly altered too but most if not all of it still comes from a later date than Matthew) that the last of all the Gospels had never heard of any events remotely resembling the Nativity story. [13]

 

And to save time let’s not get into the many historical blunders and impossibilities involved, such as the fact that no census of the entire Roman Empire took place during any halfway plausible time frame for Jesus’s birth, as Luke 2:1-3 claims. [21] Nor must I delve deeply into the subject of the nonexistence of any Old Testament prophecy about someone being called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23). The word count is bloated as it is. I think you’ve seen enough. In short the entire Nativity story is purely the result of textual corruptions from beginning to end. It’s not like there’s such a sequence in Mark or John.

 

Now brace yourself because we’re only getting started! It isn’t just huge chunks of books that are problematic. Oftentimes—*quite* often—it’s the very books themselves. Remember: the texts aside our *collection* of them was compiled not by divinely inspired prophets but by committees, and how often in this world do committees screw everything up? Let us start with the letters of Paul. Biblical scholars have held for a long time now that many of his so-called epistles aren’t actually his at all. And when I say “many” I’m not exaggerating: the list includes Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, Titus, and *both* Timothys. [22] Those are the ones that are considered altogether fake but remember what I showed you earlier: we have no idea just how real the “real” ones are anyway. There may have been some serious reediting involved—even *before* the copyists got their hands on it.

 

What of the *other* epistles? 2 Peter, as it turns out, is in the very same boat. Most critical scholars agree that it was actually written by some anonymous follower. [23] And with 1 Peter, for that matter, we’re not much better off. The rationale is similar. As sources such as “The Oxford Bible Commentary” have explained its degree of Greek sophistication—also the point in history the particular *type* of Greek used in it suggests—make it unlikely that this letter could have emerged from the mind of Simon Peter. [24] [25] The book of Jude has the same problems and so for similar reasons as well as others most scholars consider it to be phony. [26]

 

Next we come to the Johannine epistles. This is a complex topic so let me just summarize the situation thusly. Their authorship and relationship to the so-called Gospel According to St. John is controversial  but Norman Perrin proposed, for example, that upwards of three different authors got their hands on *all* of these texts. One of the indications of this would be the apparent awkward insertion of the reference to baptism into John 3:5. [27]

 

But the letter of James is surely trustworthy, right? After all *this* book was written by Jesus’s own brother! You’d think that of all people he would know what he was talking about! Funny thing, though…where does it actually *say* that? Go ahead, read through the epistle; it’s short. Does this guy *ever* identify himself as Jesus’s brother, even in the version of the text we have now? If a letter about John F. Kennedy started going around the internet and nobody could prove what the primary source was, and the only clue we had was the fact that it was signed “Love, Robert”, wouldn’t it be an awful leap of logic to start presuming that it must have come from *his* brother? Except that we know a lot about Robert Kennedy: we know very little about St. James. There are a lot of Roberts in the world; likewise there were a lot of Jameses in first-century Palestine. That’s why this fellow wound up sharing his name with another apostle. Even in a random sampling of twelve men it was difficult to avoid having two different Jims pop up—much like today, actually.

 

And as it turns out it was indeed a different James altogether who wrote the letter, and this is now commonly accepted by biblical scholars. Only gradually did the author come to be identified as the same James who was the brother of Jesus (probably just *because* such an idea adds to the text’s credibility). The Greek is, again, unlikely for a guy from a backwoods place in early first-century Palestine, and the debate over faith and works which is given such a heavy focus in the text did not truly start up until after St. James’s death. [28]

 

The Revelation/Apocalypse of St. John the Divine puts us in a similar scenario. Just as there were a lot of different apocalypses being written whereas only one of them got included in the canon so too do there seem to have been a ton of different Johns walking around out there, though I don’t know what the John-to-James ratio was. And as you’ve probably guessed it is frequently reckoned by biblical scholars that the John who wrote this book was not the apostle John. [29] I haven’t even mentioned yet that the apostle was (according to the admittedly tortured biblical text) supposed to have been “unlettered and uninstructed” (Acts 4:13, Darby), have I?

 

When it comes to the book of Hebrews the anonymity of the author is almost not worth mentioning. Isn’t it a well-known fact? Actually I’m not absolutely sure; maybe it isn’t for all I know. The New Living Translation, for example, marks the author as “uncertain; some have suggested Paul, Barnabas, Apollos, Priscilla, Luke, and others”. [30] (All of these guesses conveniently assume that it was somebody we’ve heard of before.) So maybe this time it would do me particularly little good to point out the obvious. In that case let me observe what is much more important: that Hebrews is by no means any freer of textual corruption than the other parts of the canon. In fact Codex Vaticanus not only cuts off the second half of chapter nine but also omits the entirety of the three chapters which follow! [18]Were these parts taken out or were they added in? At this point what difference does it even make?!

 

But hey, that’s all okay because we’ve still got the synoptic Gospels, don’t we? And in the end the Gospels are all a Christian needs. They’re the crux of the dogma.

 

Uh oh.

 

As it so happens the Gospels actually suffered worse than any other texts throughout the entire Bible. And when you think about it doesn’t that stand to reason? The early scribes would obviously have had much more personally invested in *these* books than in what the apostles said or in ancient chronicles about what took place back in the days of the “old covenant”. The facts are summarized well by what happened when St. Jerome made The Vulgate. As described in this excerpt from the “Versions of the Scriptures” entry in “New Unger’s Bible Dictionary”:

 

“Jerome had not been long in Rome (A.D. 383) when Damasus asked him to make a revision of the current Latin version of the New Testament with the help of the Greek original. ‘There were,’ he says, ‘almost as many forms of text as copies.’ The gospels [sic] had naturally suffered most. Jerome therefore applied himself to these first. But his aim was to revise the Old Latin and not to make a new version. Yet, although he had this limited objective, the various forms of corruption that had been introduced were, as he describes them, so numerous that the difference of the old and revised (Hieronymian) text is clear and striking throughout. Some of the changes Jerome introduced were made purely on linguistic grounds, but it is impossible to ascertain on what principle he proceeded in this respect. Others involved questions of interpretation. But the greater number consisted in the removal of the interpolations by which especially the synoptic gospels were disfigured’.” [13]

 

So maybe I was wrong about John being the single most corrupted book. Maybe it is actually in slightly better shape than the other three Gospels. Although that’s hardly saying much!

 

For the sake of maintaining some faint semblance of brevity I’ll spare you any details regarding the other books of The Old Testament apart from The Pentateuch. You’ve seen quite a lot already. And yet, even after all of this, I *still* haven’t showed you the worst of it. You haven’t heard the whole story. Which begins a few centuries ago.

 

The first time there was a widespread uproar over biblical corruption was in 1707 when Oxford biblical scholar John Mill, after three long, laborious decades of studying New Testament manuscripts, had to set himself to the likewise arduous task of deciding which of these manuscripts to put in type when offering the world a printed edition of the Greek New Testament. This was a big deal back then. Mass-produced printing press-made versions of *anything* were still pretty new so people didn’t often have a need to do this sort of thing. Of the 5,700 odd New Testament manuscripts we now know about Mill had a measly one hundred or so available to him—but the footnotes he wrote included info on around 30,000 textual variations. And what’s more he included *only* those variations he found significant! [31]Again, do the math. You’ll find that Mill had access to 1 or 2% of all known manuscripts in existence.

 

When it comes to The New Testament *nothing* is safe. Not only do very bad corruptions run all throughout it but also the very *worst* changes, as textual scholars and commentators all over the world will tell you, originated within roughly the first century or so after the books themselves were written—the very same time frame for which we have no extant manuscripts! [13] [4]

 

Not that the somewhat later manuscripts are exactly in excellent shape either. F.H. Scrivener said of the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus, “From the number of errors, one cannot affirm that it is very carefully written. The whole manuscript is disfigured by corrections, a few by the original scribe, very many by an ancient and elegant hand of the 6th Century whose emendations are of great importance, some again by a hand a little later, for the greatest number by a scholar of the 7th Century who often cancels the changes by the 6th Century amender, others by as many as eight (8) different later writers.”

 

Of Codex Vaticanus (which was also from the fourth century) he writes, “One marked feature is the great number of omissions which induced Dr. Dobbin to speak of it as an abbreviated text of the New Testament. He calculates that whole words or clauses are left out no less than 2556 times.” [13] John William Burgon wrote in “The Revision Revised” that 452 of these omitted clauses—that is to say, something like one out of every five of them—can be found in the Gospels alone. And that there are (count ’em!) 749 omitted sentences. [18] Compare Codex Sinaiticus *to* Codex Vaticanus and you’ll find that it’s actually easier to find two consecutive verses that contradict each other than any two consecutive verses that are exactly the same. [13] And these are, historically speaking, our two…“best” sources.

 

Eberhard Nestle, it seems, wasn’t just whistlin’ “Dixie” when he spoke of “learned men, so called Correctores were, following the church meeting at Nicea 325 AD, selected by the church authorities to scrutinize the sacred texts and rewrite them in order to correct their meaning in accordance with the views which the church had just sanctioned.” [13]

 

Is the Christian reader somehow *still* playing the old “the changes to the text do not affect doctrine” card, even after everything he or she has seen? Here’s another example, then, of how even the tiniest and most accidental alteration can seriously affect the theology of a verse in a canon riddled by much huger changes nonetheless. In Romans 5:1 Paul might be saying, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God,” or on the other hand the last part of the verse might instead read “let us have peace with God”. In the original Greek “we have peace” and “let us have peace” were homonyms and so scribes making their copies by way of dictation apparently caused the two terms to get mixed up with each other. As a result a lot of manuscripts have us being told that we *already* have peace with God whereas a lot of others exhort us to *seek* peace with God. These statements are more or less sheer opposites in meaning. Which of them is the true version? We don’t know. [32]

 

Moreover textual corruptions *have* affected doctrine in the past. Women in the early Christian church had a significant role but forged and altered verses quickly changed all of that. Paul wasn’t entirely against women’s rights (as far as anyone can determine, which as you can see isn’t saying much). Galatians 3:27-28 makes that clear. So does a careful reading of passages like Romans 7:3-4. [33] But the forgery we call 1 Timothy says:

 

“Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression. But she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.” (Chapter 2, verses 11-15)

 

The copyists of New Testament texts often happened to be scribes who participated in the early debates over the role of women in the church. What a surprise! This got added in too:

 

“Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

 

Some of the best manuscripts include these two verses in different places, indicating that they originated as a footnote and biased scribes sort of…upgraded them. The text of 1 Corinthians flows much better without the passage (especially in the original Greek).

 

Not only were both of these forgeries used in the ancient church to keep women from achieving positions of authority, the very same thing has continued to this day. [34]

 

But the biggest blow of all comes from the book of Mark, the very earliest extent narrative Gospel. The best evidence suggests that chapter 16, verse 8 is the actual, original ending of the book, and the twelve verses which follow were completely made up out of whole cloth. They’re “absent from our two oldest and best manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel, along with other important witnesses; the writing style varies from what we find elsewhere in Mark; the transition between this passage and the one preceding it is hard to understand (e.g., Mary Magdalene is introduced in verse 9 as if she hadn’t been mentioned yet, even though she is discussed in the preceding verses; there is another problem with the Greek that makes the transition even more awkward); and there are a large number of words and phrases in the passage that are not found elsewhere in Mark. In short, the evidence is sufficient to convince nearly all textual scholars that these verses are an addition to Mark.” [35]

 

Once again check the footnotes of your Bibles. The omitted details and weasel words never end! Holman Christian Standard Bible, for instance, merely encloses those last twelve verses in brackets and says, “Other mss omit bracketed text.” The New King James Version says, “Verses 9–20 are bracketed in NU-Text as not original. They are lacking in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, although nearly all other manuscripts of Mark contain them.” Wow. Now that is a new low, even for their sort. It’s like nonchalantly saying to someone, “Oh by the way, just so you know, the police couldn’t manage to find any evidence of foul play either by checking for signs of a struggle at the scene or by asking the neighbors if they saw or heard anything suspicious during the night.” And not uttering a *syllable* about the highly threatening note and its distinctive handwriting, the positively identified DNA of a known serial killer—and the well-known history of the deceased as a constant victim of his abuse.

 

On the other hand there are actually a few translations that are surprisingly honest, at least when it comes to this issue. Listen to what The New American Standard Bible says: “A few late mss and versions contain this paragraph, usually after v 8; a few have it at the end of ch”. “Usually”? Could this whole thing have begun with yet *another* case of a sneaky scribe dishonestly promoting a footnote? I’m sorry, I still fail to see how that kind of thing can ever be an innocent mistake. Besides which how *did* that footnote end up in the margin in the first place? What does its presence indicate? I’ll *tell* you what it means: that there were conflicting traditions, contradictory accounts of what happened at this purported resurrection, right from the early years—and that even the people who saw to this earliest text weren’t sure what was what.

 

The footnotes of The New Living Translation almost blew my mind. For one thing they’re likewise unexpectedly forthcoming: “The most reliable early manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end at verse 8. Other manuscripts include various endings to the Gospel. A few include both the ‘shorter ending’ and the ‘longer ending.’ The majority of manuscripts include the ‘longer ending’ immediately after verse 8.”

 

“Various endings”? Does that mean that there are more than the ones they’ve listed? At the least you can find *three* of them in this translation alone—one of which has its own extremely variant form!

 

First they offer the aforementioned real ending, the one that almost certainly closed the original manuscript of Mark:

 

“Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.’ The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.” (Mark 16:1-8)

 

Here we might picture that screen from the VHS cut of the film “Clue” which says, “That’s how it could have happened…But how about this?”

 

“Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.” (Mark 16:8)

 

“But here’s what really happened.”

 

“After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.

 

Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them. Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead. And then he told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.’

 

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.” (Mark 16:9-20)

 

Nor does the confusion even end there, because verse 14 (“Still later…raised from the dead”) has a footnote of its own, saying, “Some early manuscripts add: And they excused themselves, saying, ‘This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not permit God’s truth and power to conquer the evil [unclean] spirits. Therefore, reveal your justice now.’ This is what they said to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘The period of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other dreadful things will happen soon. And I was handed over to death for those who have sinned, so that they may return to the truth and sin no more, and so they may inherit the spiritual, incorruptible, and righteous glory in heaven.’”

 

These people had no shame at all! And that’s quite understandable. It’s obvious what particular sort of desperation drove them to create all of those varying forgeries. It’s not like leaving the text at its original stopping point of 16:8 would have been the least bit acceptable. For one thing we’d never have gotten any true, incontrovertible confirmation that this resurrection even occurred. Mark 16:6 positively does *not* contain the word “angel” (“angelos”) in the original Greek. Look it up at greekbible.com. Click on each word in the verse. Check it against Matthew 4:11. It’s not in there. The New Living Translation may have been honest with these footnotes but they’re certainly not honest with the text. That’s why The New Revised Standard Version, The New American Standard Bible, Moffatt’s New Testament, and so on, all say “he” instead of “the angel”.

 

For another thing the book of Mark didn’t harp obsessively on the subject of how impossible it is to remove the stone from the tomb’s entrance as the book of Matthew would later on; indeed it’s clear here that the women merely would have needed a few strong men to help them:  “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” So what was to stop the readers from thinking that, in theory, this fellow in white could be a human being pulling a particularly well-staged hoax?

 

Another problem created by the original ending is that we have a massive plot hole on our hands here. If the women never tell anybody what happened then…how *did* anybody ever find out about it? How did *the author*? After all we’re given no indication that anyone *besides* this small group of people was ever informed of the resurrection.

 

Besides which none of this stuff is even emotionally satisfying, on a gut level. Folks expect closure from a story, whether or not it’s supposed to be a true one.

 

No wonder everybody seemed to be clamoring for a new ending. No wonder so *many* different ones were written. And I’ll remind you again: this is the first known full account of The Resurrection, the core story of the core concept of traditional Christianity! I think that makes the matter more than just a little bit relevant. I think it throws the whole doctrine seriously into question. Something has dammed up the headwaters.

 

And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that *none* of these different versions of the story match the original blurb from Paul (who, you’ll notice, didn’t speak as though any apostles were dead either):

 

“[Jesus] was buried; and…raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and…appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve. Then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:4-7)

 

Assuming, of course, that we can say with any confidence that this passage was even there in the original version of 1 Corinthians when studying the very tiniest fraction of all of the world’s New Testament manuscripts forces a man to keep his footnotes confined to the 30,000 *most major* textual variations he’d come across; when it’s much easier, with a pair of the oldest and best codices, to find two consecutive verses that are different than any two consecutive verses that are identical; when Paul’s letters might have all come from the same reedited source; and when scholars around the world generally acknowledge that the worst-treated manuscripts of The New Testament also seem to be the earliest manuscripts—the same ones we’re least able to study.

 

Now comes the *very* worst of it. This Markan forgery doesn’t merely affect doctrine so much that it throws the entirety of Pauline Christianity seriously into question, it affects doctrine to a downright *deadly* degree. I meant that literally. The corruption is *lethally* theologically significant. Those verses you read a moment ago about believers being able to safely pick up venomous snakes and drink poison, et cetera, was the doctrinal basis of the Appalachian snake handlers’ infamous practices, just as it was also used as a basis for the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues. [36]Both are cases of biblical textual corruptions having large and long-lasting effects on church practices and sectarian differences but that isn’t the main point. The awful news here is that the daredevil rituals of the snake handlers have killed over a hundred people so far. [37] And that’s just the people from this one little sect formed a century ago in America. The passage has existed for the better part of two whole millennia: how many deaths do you suppose there have been overall? A lot more than just a hundred, we can be reasonably sure of that!

Show of hands: is anyone out there *still* going to tell me that there are no corruptions of any true significance? Anyone? Anyone??

 

 

APPENDIX:

 

If I may squeeze in one last side note in a likely already overlong article, I’ve found this tidbit on the matter of the dating of The Pentateuch in a prominent Bible commentary: “The actual or *absolute* dates of the sources can be fixed by reference to evidence outside the Pentateuch. Such arguments can themselves be subdivided according to whether reference is being made to fixed points in the events of israel’s political and religious history (such as the Babylonian exile) as we know them from the historical books of the OT, or to doctrines (such as the demand for the centralization of worship in Jerusalem) whose first formulation we can date to the prophets, for example. Even here it is fair to say that the strength of the arguments used varies, and where a link can be established with something like the Exile, it can still be difficult to deduce a very precise date for the source in question.

 

But for all that, it has seemed possible to define in broad terms the time when the various source-documents were put into their definitive form. I emphasize that last phrase because when scholars assign a date to a source they are not saying that this is when it was suddenly created out of nothing. They recognize that much of the material in the sources is older than the sources themselves, it comes from earlier tradition. What they are looking for when they date a source is the latest element within it, because that will show when it reached the definitive form.” [38]

 

Notes on writing: all biblical quotations in this article, unless indicated otherwise, are from The American Standard Version, as that was the first translation I could find which didn’t either render 1 Timothy 3:16, Acts 20:28, or 1 John 5:8 inaccurately or else add a deceptive footnote to at least one of these verses.

 

NOTES:

 

[1] “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart D. Ehrman, pages 153-154. 2005 HarperSanFrancisco, HarperCollins. First edition hardback.

 

[2] “The Inspirational Study Bible”, general editor Max Lucado, pages ix-xi. 1995 Word Publishing and Thomas Nelson, Inc..

 

[3] “Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Gift & Award Edition”, page 574. 1997 Tyndale House Publishers, Tyndale Charitable Trust.

 

[4] Ehrman, the Bart Ehrman-Dan Wallace debate “Is the Original New Testament Lost?” on February 1st, 2012.

 

[5] “NIV Seniors’ Devotional Bible”, page ix. 1995 The Zondervan Corporation, Zondervan Publishing House, and the International Bible Society.

 

[6] The internet article “Wes Craven’s Dream Warriors” by Christian Sellers. Accessed Thursday, September 12th, 2013 or whereabouts. There’s some pretty gruesome imagery at that page so I don’t know if offering a link here would be appropriate for a website like mine.

 

[7] “The Documentary Hypothesis” from “The Story of the Torah” at Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning (http://www.kolel.org/torahstory/module2/jepd.html). Accessed Friday, September 13th, 2013 or whereabouts.

 

[8] “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts” by israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, pages 23 and 70. 2001 The Free Press, Simon & Schuster, Inc..

 

[9] ibid., page 38

 

[10] “The Documentary Hypothesis, Eight Lectures” by David Gottlieb (http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/Documentary_Hypothesis.htm). Accessed Thursday, September 19th, 2013. These extremely tendentious notes can offer no better rebuttals than an observation about cadence which changes nothing; an apparently unsupported claim about unified grammatical usage which sounds, to my admittedly untrained ear, like it probably applies more or less to *all* ancient Hebrew; and of course the old, “Statistics can prove anything!” None of that comes across like it could conceivably explain such an outrageous fluke as a ratio of about 0.77%.

 

[11] “Don’t Know Much About the Bible” by Kenneth C. Davis, page 138. 1998 Eagle Book and William Morrow and Company, Inc.. First edition hardback.

 

[12] ibid., page 102

 

[13] “Has the Bible Been Faithfully Preserved?” by Allan Cronshaw. I don’t know the original publication info because I read the article at this link: http://reluctant-messenger.com/biblical-corruption.htm

 

[14] “Misquoting Jesus”, pages 113-114

 

[15] ibid., page 157

 

[16] ibid., page 61

 

[17] ibid., pages 161-162

 

[18] “Codex Vaticanus” at 1611KingJamesBible.com (http://www.1611kingjamesbible.com/codex_vaticanus.html/). Accessed Thursday, September 19th, 2013.

 

[19] “Misquoting Jesus”, page 65

 

[20] I don’t know whether or not the humanist who wrote that piece would be of the (false) view that I’ve broken his personal rule of never doing anything for the purpose of “anti-Christian propaganda”. When you think about it anyone at all who puts forth this sort of information, including Smith himself, could very well be accused of doing such a thing. I apologize if I’ve offended him (or the person behind that King James Bible site) by using his page in some way other than intended—but the lies and deliberate understatements of countless Christian apologists and evangelists need to be exposed.

 

[21] Davis, page 354

 

[22] “Misquoting Jesus”, pages 23, 219-220

 

[23] ibid., page 31

 

[24] “1 Peter” at Early Christian Writings (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1peter.html). Accessed Saturday, September 14th, 2013 or whereabouts.

 

[25] Davis, page 455

 

[26] “Epistle of Jude” at Early Christian Writings (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/jude.html). Accessed Saturday, September 14th, 2013 or whereabouts.

 

[27] “1 John” at Early Christian Writings (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html). Accessed Friday, September 27th, 2013.

 

[28] “Epistle of James” at Early Christian Writings (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/james.html). Accessed Thursday, September 19th, 2013.

 

[29] The World Book Encyclopedia Online, “Book of Revelation” entry (http://worldbookonline.com/pl/referencecenter/article?id=ar466540&st=revelation). Accessed Friday, September 27th, 2013.

 

[30] New Living Translation Gift & Award, page 696

 

[31] Ehrman, “Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered Scripture and Readers Who May Never Know”, from the Heyns Lecture Series at Stanford University’s Office for Religious Life on April 25th, 2007.

 

[32] “Misquoting Jesus”, page 93

 

[33] Davis, page 438

 

[34] “Misquoting Jesus”, pages 180-184

 

[35] ibid., page 67

 

[36] ibid., page 66

 

[37] “Death of Snake Handling Preacher Shines Light on Lethal Appalachian Tradition” by Julia Dunn at CNN Belief Blog (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/01/death-of-snake-handling-preacher-shines-light-on-lethal-appalachian-tradition/). Accessed Saturday, September 14th, 2013 or whereabouts.

 

[38] “The Oxford Bible Commentary”, edited by John Barton and John Muddiman, page 16. 2001 Oxford University Press. Hardback version; first published in paperback form in 2007.

 

From washmyheartwiththezamzam.tumblr.com

Edited by IAmZamzam

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Yet the Qur'an claims to confirm the previous scriptures. The Qur'an does not directly say the Gospels are corrupt. Or why would it say Christians should follow their scriptures .. That is the Gospels.. New Testament.. Which we have now that was in existence before your prophet brought Islam.

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Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death… They All Die

Priest Light Monyeki is from Soshaguve, South Africa. And it seems to be his calling to show his followers that he and those who believe in his teachings were superhumans able to ward off death.

 

Mark 16:18
 

"when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

 

During the High Place Conference, which is also referred to as his “Supernatural Service,” Monyeki proclaimed that they must not fear death, as they will not die. He then started pouring Rattax (a popular rat poison) into a bottle of water, which he then urged his believers to drink.

This is Priest Light Monyeki, a non-believer in the power of rat poison.
IMG_20170219_075942.jpg?resize=640,429

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die
IMG_20170219_075913.jpg?resize=640,430

He proclaimed,

We do not need to proclaim faith because we are believers. Death has no power over us.

Monyeki put some rat poison into a water bottle and then challenged his believers to drink from the poisoned water.

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die

Monyeki then took a swig from the bottle of poisoned water. And with the power of belief and the absolute faith they had in Monyeki, many followers ran forward to take a drink as well.

The congregation, in their absolute faith in Monyeki, rushed forward to drink the poison.
IMG_20170219_075849.jpg?resize=640,426

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die

Many of them were enthralled by the idea that they could defy death.
IMG_20170219_075818.jpg?resize=640,426

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die

Predictably enough, in the evening, many members of the congregation started to complain of stomach pains, and later 5 of them were declared to be dead. 13 more of the member of the congregation were taken to the hospital for ingesting Monyeki’s rat poison ####tail.

Monyeki, however, refused to take the blame for the horrific effects of what he did. Instead, all he had to say was,

Too much of any good thing could be bad.

We’re guessing that by “good thing” he’s referring to the ability to escape from death.

The incident has sparked an investigation, though no arrests have been made. Sadly, it looks like Monyeki may walk away a free man as the people who died or became sick from the rat poison were the ones who willingly ingested the concoction!

Now, this reminds me of that controversial Pastor who ‘Heals’ HIV and Cancer patients by spraying them with insecticide.


http://springsbury.com/priest-feeds-congregation-rat-poison-to-show-they-can-defy-death-they-all-die/

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Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death… They All Die

Priest Light Monyeki is from Soshaguve, South Africa. And it seems to be his calling to show his followers that he and those who believe in his teachings were superhumans able to ward off death.

 

Mark 16:18

 

 

"when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

 

During the High Place Conference, which is also referred to as his “Supernatural Service,” Monyeki proclaimed that they must not fear death, as they will not die. He then started pouring Rattax (a popular rat poison) into a bottle of water, which he then urged his believers to drink.

This is Priest Light Monyeki, a non-believer in the power of rat poison.IMG_20170219_075942.jpg?resize=640,429

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All DieIMG_20170219_075913.jpg?resize=640,430

He proclaimed,

We do not need to proclaim faith because we are believers. Death has no power over us.

Monyeki put some rat poison into a water bottle and then challenged his believers to drink from the poisoned water.

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die

Monyeki then took a swig from the bottle of poisoned water. And with the power of belief and the absolute faith they had in Monyeki, many followers ran forward to take a drink as well.

The congregation, in their absolute faith in Monyeki, rushed forward to drink the poison.IMG_20170219_075849.jpg?resize=640,426

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die

Many of them were enthralled by the idea that they could defy death.IMG_20170219_075818.jpg?resize=640,426

Priest Feeds Congregation Rat Poison to Show They Can Defy Death... They All Die

Predictably enough, in the evening, many members of the congregation started to complain of stomach pains, and later 5 of them were declared to be dead. 13 more of the member of the congregation were taken to the hospital for ingesting Monyeki’s rat poison ####tail.

Monyeki, however, refused to take the blame for the horrific effects of what he did. Instead, all he had to say was,

Too much of any good thing could be bad.

We’re guessing that by “good thing” he’s referring to the ability to escape from death.

The incident has sparked an investigation, though no arrests have been made. Sadly, it looks like Monyeki may walk away a free man as the people who died or became sick from the rat poison were the ones who willingly ingested the concoction!

Now, this reminds me of that controversial Pastor who ‘Heals’ HIV and Cancer patients by spraying them with insecticide.

 

http://springsbury.com/priest-feeds-congregation-rat-poison-to-show-they-can-defy-death-they-all-die/

Why have you posted this in a thread about the Bibles corruption? It about a misguided man and a load of gullible followers. It's ridiculous. Absolute Truth, you are getting quite desperate. :)

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Gee , I wonder what other faith or religion has misguided followers who kill not only themselves but others who are not even of their faith ?

 What's your point Absolute Truth ?  One thing I do know is that you are no Bible Scholar and are in no position whatsoever to determine whether any of the Old or New Testament is corrupted .

IAMZamZam is just as pretentious and he is good only at cut and pasting standard Muslim refutations of Judaism and Christianity . The Torah has been around for 2800 years before Islam was a thought  and the Christian Scriptures 300-400 years before the Prophet lived . 

 As we all know, there are false prophets and psychopaths who have led their deceived congregations to their doom , and that includes all three of the Great Faiths .

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He has no point, just a bit desperate.

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The Gospel of Mark:

Note:   This gospel is the oldest and supposedly the most original one in the New Testament!


"Although the book is anonymous, apart from the ancient heading "According to Mark" in manuscripts, it has traditionally been assigned to John Mark, in whose  mother's house (at Jerusalem) Christians assembled.  (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1064)"

"Although there is no direct internal evidence of authorship, it was the unanimous testimony of the early church that this Gospel was written by John Mark.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary [1], page 1488)"

  • We certainly do not know whether Mark was the author or not!  The quote clearly states "no direct internal evidence of authorship".  Also, the so-called unanimous testimony of the early church:
      
    -  Does not prove that the author was Mark.
       
    -  Nor does it prove that other people did not alter and modify the book, especially when the book was written at least 40-50 years after Christ.  We don't even know if Mark even wrote the book.
  •   
    "Traditionally, the gospel is said to have been written shortly before A.D. 70 in Rome, at a time of impending persecution and when destruction loomed over Jerusalem.  (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1064)"

    "Serious doubts exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark.  They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark.  His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.  (From the NIV Bible Foot Notes [1], page 1528)"

    "This verse, which reads, "But if you do not forgive, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your transgressions," is omitted in the best manuscripts.  (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1081)"

    "This passage, termed the Longer Ending to the Marcan gospel by comparison with a much briefer conclusion found in some less important manuscripts, has traditionally been accepted as a canonical part of the gospel and was defined as such by the Council of Trent.  Early citations of it by the Fathers indicate that it was composed by the second century, although vocabulary and style indicate that it was written by someone other than Mark.  (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1088)"

    So, in reality, we don't really know whether Mark was the sole author of this Gospel or not, nor do we know when and where the "gospel" was even written.  And since The New Testament wasn't even documented on paper until 150-300 years (depending on what Christian you talk to) after Jesus, then how are we to know for sure that the current "Gospel of Mark" wasn't written by some pro of Mark?

    mark16_corruption.jpg (54552 bytes)

     

    (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2016:9-20;&version=31;)


    The above text reads: "The most reliable early manuscript and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20."

    Now my concern to this corruption and 'answer-the-problem-away' statement is that what are those so-called "reliable early manuscript(s)" and who are the "ancient witnesses"?

    I hope you see the real danger in making these assumptions when you are willing to DIE for the fact that such Gospel is the actual True Word of GOD Almighty!

    Further regarding this Gospel, we read the following commentary about Mark 16:9-20:

    "Serious doubts exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark.  They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark.  His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost(From the NIV Bible Foot Notes [1], page 1528)"

    This quote raises a very serious issue here.  First of all, as we've seen above in the first quote, we have no evidence that proves that John Mark was the sole author of this so called "Gospel".  Second of all, we see that this Gospel has some serious problems/suspicions in it.  The issue of Mark 16:9-20 is a scary one, because many Christian cults today use poisonous snakes in their worship and end up dying. (see above)

    Removing Mark 16:9-20 is quite appreciated, because it prevents people from dying from snake bites.  But however, the serious issue of man's corruption of the Bible remains. 

    We can be absolutely certain now that the above quotes prove without a doubt that the Bible is doubtful.  The quote "or its original ending has been lost" proves that what we call today "Gospels" were not written by their original authors such as Mark, John, Matthew, etc...  It proves that the Gospel had been tampered with by man.  Let alone considering it as the True Living Words of GOD Almighty. 

    If John Mark wasn't the one who wrote Mark 16:9-20, then who did? And how can you prove the ownership of the other person? Let alone proving that it was GOD Almighty's Revelation.  And as we saw in the first quote above, we don't even know that John Mark was indeed the one who wrote the so called "Gospel of Mark".

    To say the least in our case here, we now have enough evidence to discard the entire Gospel of Mark from the Bible, because you can't take bits and pieces of it and say some of it belongs to him and some of it doesn't!  Let alone considering the entire corrupted Gospel as the True Living Word of GOD Almighty, which is a complete blasphemy.

    Please visit A dangerous forgery was inserted at the end of the so-called "Gospel of Mark".

    Dr. James White acknowledges that the Bible has been tampered with !

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6BNvoy8FHU

    If the "gospel of Mark" was indeed Divine and from GOD Almighty, then we wouldn't have this corruption in it.

     

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    The bible confirms its own corruption !

     

    Jeremiah 8:8

    " 'How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely"

     

    Clarke's Commentary on the Bible:

    The deceitful pen of the scribes. They have written falsely, though they had the truth before them. It is too bold an assertion to say that “the Jews have never falsified the Sacred Oracles;” they have done it again and again. They have written falsities when they knew they were such.”

    Many of modern Christian scholars will agree with Dr. Clarke’s statement. It is a historical fact that the Old Testament has been corrupted in its earliest stage, and it was exhaustively proved more than 250 years ago by Dr. Benjamin Kennicott, a prominent Hebrew scholar who was able to trace the process of the Hebrew text transmission till the times of Ezra (ca. 450-420 B.C.).

    Here are some excerpts from his latin work Dissertatio Generalis which till today is of great importance for Biblical scholarship:

    e4be36300d519021.png

    Reference: J. C. Nott & G. R. Gliddon, Types of Mankind: Or Ethnological Researches, Based Upon the Ancient Monuments, Paintings, Sculptures, and Crania of Races, and Upon Their Natural, Geographical, Philological, and Biblical History. (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1854), pp. 627-628.
     

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    Jeremiah 23:36

    "But you must not mention 'a message from the LORD' again, because each one's word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the LORD Almighty, our God."
     

    so that you pervert
    וַהֲפַכְתֶּ֗ם (wa·hă·p̄aḵ·tem)
    Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive perfect - second person masculine plural
    Strong's Hebrew 2015: To turn about, over, to change, overturn, return, pervert

    Benson Commentary:
    For every man’s word shall be his burden — You shall be made severely to account for your loose and profane speeches, wherewith you deride and pervert the words and messages of God himself. Or, “Every man shall have most reason to regard his own word as hurtful and prejudicial to him. For the words of God were delivered with a salutary tendency, to warn sinners of the danger of their situation, and to call them to repentance. Those, therefore, who made a right use of them would have no cause to complain. But those who despised and rejected them perverted that which should have been for their wealth into an occasion of falling.” — Blaney.

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    Psalm 56:4-5 NIV

        In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?All day long they twist my words all their schemes are for my ruin.

     

    New American Standard Bible

    All day long they distort my words;

     

    King James Bible

    Every day they wrest my words:

     

    יְעַצֵּ֑בוּ (yə·‘aṣ·ṣê·ḇū)

    Strong's Hebrew 6087: To carve, fabricate, fashion, to worry, pain, anger

    Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

    Every day they wrest my words,.... Form, fashion, and shape them at their pleasure; construe them, and put what sense upon them they think fit. The word (u) is used of the formation of the human body, in Job 10:8; They put his words upon the rack, and made them speak what he never intended; as some men wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:16; and as the Jews wrested the words of Christ, John 2:19.

     

    Clarke's Commentary

    Every day they wrest my words - They have been spies on my conduct continually; they collected all my sayings, and wrested my words out of their proper sense and meaning, to make them, by inuendos, speak treason against Saul. They are full of evil purposes against me.

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    Matthew 15:7-9

    You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

    They worship me in vain; Their teachings are merely human rules.

    Matthew Henry Commentary

    15:1-9 Additions to God's laws reflect upon his wisdom, as if he had left out something which was needed, and which man could supply; in one way or other they always lead men to disobey God. How thankful ought we to be for the written word of God! Never let us think that the religion of the Bible can be improved by any human addition, either in doctrine or practice. Our blessed Lord spoke of their traditions as inventions of their own, and pointed out one instance in which this was very clear, that of their transgressing the fifth commandment.... The doom of hypocrites is put in a little compass; In vain do they worship me. It will neither please God, nor profit themselves; they trust in vanity, and vanity will be their recompence.

    Barnes' Notes on the Bible

    In vain do they worship me - That is, their attempts to worship are "vain," or are not real worship - they are mere "forms."

    Teaching for doctrines ... - The word "doctrines," here, means the requirements of religion - things to be believed and practiced in religion.

    God only has a right to declare what shall be done in his service; but they held their traditions to be superior to the written word of God, and taught them as doctrines binding the conscience.

    Isaiah 29:13

    The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
     

     

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    2 Peter 3:16
    ".. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."

    rest of
    λοιπὰς (loipas)
    Strong's Greek 3062: Left, left behind, the remainder, the rest, the others. Masculine plural of a derivative of leipo; remaining ones.

    [the] Scriptures,
    γραφὰς (graphas)
    Strong's Greek 1124: (a) a writing, (b) a passage of scripture; plur: the scriptures. A document, i.e. Holy Writ.

     

    Pulpit Commentary

    By "the other Scriptures" St. Peter means the Old Testament, and also, perhaps, some of the earlier writings of the New, as the first three Gospels and the Epistle of St. James.

    Gill's exposition:

    as they do also the other Scriptures; the writings of Moses, and the prophets of the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the other epistles of the apostles of the New Testament

    Expositor's Greek testament:

    ὡς καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς. (1) There has been much discussion among commentators as to the meaning of γραφάς. Spitta takes γραφάς in sense of “writings,” and concludes that these were by companions of the Apostle Paul; but this is a very unusual sense of γραφή unless the name of an author is given. Mayor and others interpret as the O.T. Scriptures; while some who are prepared to assign a late date in the second century to the epistle, think that both Old and New Testament Scriptures are meant. On every ground the hypothesis of γραφάς = O.T. Scriptures is to be preferred. (2) The difficulty in connexion with the meaning of γραφάς is largely occasioned by the phrase τὰς λοιπὰς γρ. Does this mean that the Epistles of St. Paul are regarded as Scripture? Attempts have been made (e.g., by Dr. Bigg) to cite classical and other parallels that would justify the sense for τὰς λοιπὰς, “the Scriptures as well”. In these, certain idiomatic uses of ἄλλος and other words are referred to, but no real parallel to this sense of λοιπός can be found, and the connexion implied in λοιπός is closer than ἄλλος. The result of the whole discussion is practically to compel us to take τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς in the obvious sense “the rest of the Scriptures,” and we cannot escape the conclusion that the Epistles of Paul are classed with these. The intention of the author of 2 Peter seems to be to regard the Pauline Epistles, or those of them that he knew, as γραφαὶ because they were read in the churches along with the lessons from the O.T.

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