Subtly Discrediting God’s Word
GOD’S Word, the Bible, has ever had enemies. In times past these enemies served the Devil’s purpose by consigning Bibles, Bible translators, Bible publishers, and just ordinary Bible readers to the flames. Today faithless men serve the Devil’s purpose in more subtle ways, but serve the Devil’s purpose nevertheless.
A recent case in point is the article “The Truth About the Bible” which appeared in the United States picture magazine Look, February 26, 1952. In an endeavor to appear sensational it presents as news that Bible scholars agree that Mark 16:9-20 is no part of the original, which, among other things, states that believers “shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them”. It also points out that John 8:1-11, the account of the woman taken in adultery, is no part of John’s original writing, and that 1 John 5:7, which reads: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one,” is likewise an interpolation, a spurious passage. A number of other minor passages are also listed as doubtful.
After giving such examples the statement is made that Bible scholars are agreed that there are from 20,000 to 50,000 errors in the Bible. What will the average reader conclude but that there are 50,000 such spurious passages as John 8:1-11 or Mark 16:9-20. But is such a fact? Impossible! Not only would it be literally impossible for the Bible to have 50,000 such spurious passages in it but it would be impossible for the Bible to have 50,000 spurious texts such as 1 John 5:7, which speaks about three gods’ being one. Why? Because altogether there are only 31,173 verses in the King James Version. The Bible, however, does have 3,566,480 single letters.
Actually this article is a subtle attempt to discredit the Bible by depicting as new and sensational the commonly known facts regarding certain spurious passages once thought to be a part of the Bible. More than 150 years ago, Griesbach, on whose recension the Emphatic Diaglott (a Greek-English “New Testament”) is based, recognized such passages as being no part of the Bible.
Indicative of a lack of scholarship in this article is the fact that the Vatican and Sinaitic manuscripts are termed papyri, whereas it is common knowledge that they are outstanding vellum manuscripts; that is, they are made of fine-grade calfskin and not from the papyrus reeds. Neither does it show much scholarship to stress that the greatest number of errors were made before A.D. 200, as some critics now claim. Why? Because the closer one gets to the time of the original writing the less likelihood that deliberate tampering with the text would go unnoticed, and therefore such errors would be merely minor slips in writing and would not affect the authenticity of what was recorded.
Pertinent here is the testimony of Dr. Hort, one of the ablest Bible scholars of all time. According to him, seven-eighths of the words of the “New Testament” are above doubt; and if differences of spelling are set aside, only one word in sixty is in doubt. And of these the number involving substantial variation is so small that they “can hardly form more than a thousandth part of the entire text”.—Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1912), page 6.
Yes, to Bible scholars with faith in God there is nothing sensational in the large number of minor inaccuracies that may have crept into the Bible text. Those of any serious concern crept in so far down the line that they can easily be disposed of. For example, 1 John 5:7, which seems to teach the trinity, is found in no Greek manuscript earlier than the fifteenth century; and even at that time, it got into the text only because of a deception, the facts of which are recorded by history. Briefly, they show that one Stunica, a Catholic authority of the sixteenth century, complained because the Catholic Bible scholar Erasmus had left this text out of his first two editions of the “New Testament”. Erasmus promised to include it if Stunica could furnish a single Greek manuscript that contained the passage. Stunica did, but it turned out later that the Greek manuscript that contained this text was here accommodated to a Latin manuscript containing 1 John 5:7, by a special rewriting. If it had not been for this deception, it is not likely that this text would ever have found its way into the King James Version.
Reasonable persons will accept the testimony of circumstantial evidence in this matter. For instance, in 1947 a scroll of Isaiah was discovered near the Dead sea. This manuscript, although going back about a thousand years beyond any definitely dated text of Isaiah extant at the time, still shows no appreciable difference in all that time. A thousand years of copying and no appreciable change!
Further supporting the authenticity of the Scriptures is the testimony of archaeology. Says the noted British scholar Sir Frederic Kenyon in his book The Bible and Archaeology, pages 279, 280: “Though archaeology has not yet said its last word, the results already achieved confirm what faith would suggest, that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase of knowledge.” Albright, foremost American archaeologist, testifies to the same effect, namely, that ‘nothing has been discovered that could shake one’s faith in the Bible in the slightest’.
And there are many other proofs of the Bible’s authenticity: the harmony of some forty writers, though living at widely separated times and places; the obvious candor of the writers; the testimony of profane historians, and, above all, the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Yes, how could there be such harmony between the various Bible writers if 50,000 serious errors had crept into the text? How could countless archaeological discoveries corroborate the Bible record if its pages contained 50,000 serious inaccuracies? How could we note so many Bible prophecies fulfilled if some 50,000 words were not even inspired? Clearly the numerous scribal errors are of little importance.
Modern critics, who harp on the prevalence of the number of errors found in the Bible, are thereby subtly seeking to discredit God’s Word; and in using this fact as an excuse for their lack of faith in the Bible are the modern counterpart of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who ‘strained out gnats and gulped down camels’. (Matt. 23:24, New World Trans.) They discard 99.9 per cent because .1 of one per cent is in doubt!