Has the Bible been Changed? Part One

Intro to Textual Criticism: Reconstructing Aunt Sally’s Letter

This simple illustration comes from an article on the Christian website Stand to Reason. The illustration is meant to instruct those who are not familiar with textual criticism as to the objective of this disciple. The illustration goes like this:

Pretend your Aunt Sally has a dream in which she learns the recipe for an elixir that would continuously maintain her youth. When she wakes up, she scribbles the directions on a scrap of paper, then runs into the kitchen to make up her first glass. In a few days her appearance is transformed. Sally is a picture of radiant youth because of her daily dose of what comes to be known as “Aunt Sally’s Secret Sauce.”

Sally is so excited she sends hand-written instructions to her three bridge partners (Aunt Sally is still in the technological dark ages–no photocopier) giving detailed instructions on how to make the sauce. They, in turn, make copies which each sends to ten of her own friends.

All is going well until one day Aunt Sally’s pet schnauzer eats the original copy of the recipe. Sally is beside herself. In a panic she contacts her three friend

They finally round up all the surviving hand-written copies, twenty-six in all. When they spread them out on the kitchen table, they immediately notice some differences. Twenty-three of the copies are exactly the same. One has a misspelled word, though, one has two phrases inverted (“mix then chop” instead of “chop then mix”) and one includes an ingredient that none of the others has on its list.s who have mysteriously suffered similar mishaps. Their copies are gone, too, so the alarm goes out to their friends in attempt to recover the original wording.

Here is the critical question: Do you think Aunt Sally can accurately reconstruct her original recipe?

This is what textual criticism is all about, finding out what the original words of the document in question are. In this case the Bible is the document in question.

Ancient Testimony

Saying the Bible has been changed isn’t a new claim, this was said back when Christianity was still an infant on the world stage. This section will provide testimony from christian and non-christian sources which accuse their religious opponents of changing, adding, and deleting certain text in holy scripture. We’ll start things off with the pagan philosopher and arch nemesis of the early christian church, Celsus. Celsus is best known for his anti-christian work titled, The True Word, This writing from around A.D. 177 is the earliest known attack on Christianity. Celsus wrote that:

“Certain Christians, like men who are overcome by the fumes of wine and care not in the least what they say, alter the original text of the Gospels so that they admit of various and almost indefinite readings. And this, I suppose, they have done out of worldly policy, so that when we press an argument home, they might have the more scope for their pitiful evasions” (Celsus, The True Word)

The great teacher and early christian scholar Origen who was and still is considered the greatest Christian teacher outside of Jesus Christ and his apostles, it was this man who was comminsioned by the church to responded to Celsus attacks on the Church. Origen responded to Celsus by saying:

Besides, it is not at all fair to bring this charge against the Christian religion as a crime unworthy of its pretended purity; only those persons who were concerned in the fraud should, in equity, be held answerable for it” (Origen, Contra Celsus)

Notice Origen does not deny that people are changing the scriptures he just says you cannot blame this on the religion itself but the people who commit the fraud.

The church father St. Jerome who is best known for translating the Bible into Latin, this translation is known as the Vulgate. St. Jerome commented on the fact that when scribes came across something while copying scripture that they did not like they assumed it was a mistake by the previous copyist and would correct this mistake by adding their preconceived beliefs to the text.

They write down not what they find but what they think is the meaning; and while they attempt to rectify the errors of others, they merely expose their own” (Jerome, Epist. lxxi.5)

The ancient church historian Eusebius who was the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine quoted Pope Dionysius of Alexandria on how his letters had been corrupted by the hands of fellow christians.

“When my fellow Christians invited me to write letters to them I did so. These the devil’s apostles have filled with tares, taking away some things and adding others. For them the woe is reserved. Small wonder then if some have dared to tamper even with the word of the Lord Himself, when they have conspired to mutilate my own humble efforts” (Hist. Eccl., Bk. 4. 23)

Eusebius had his own problems with people corrupting the bible in his own day. Eusebius wrote:

Therefore they have laid their hands boldly upon the Divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them. That I am not speaking falsely of them in this matter, whoever wishes may learn. For if any one will collect their respective copies, and compare them one with another, he will find that they differ greatly. (Eusebius, Church History)

Probably the most influential church father of them all, St. Augustine, who is best known for his work, City of God, spoke on the corruption of the scriptures as well, he said:

“For those who are anxious to know the Scriptures ought in the first place to use their skill in the correction of the texts, so that the uncorrected ones should give way to the corrected” (De Doctrina Christ., II. 14)

The church father Tertullian, who is considered the founder of Western Theology blamed heretics for the corruption of the scriptures. He makes reference to the fact that Marcion removed whole sections of scripture because he did not agree with what was written.

“Now, inasmuch as all interpolation must believed to be a later process… One man perverts the scriptures with his hand, another their meaning by his exposition… Marcion expressly and openly used the knife, not the pen, since he made such an excision of the scriptures as suits his own subject matter” (De Praescript. 38)

Scholarly Tesimony

Without the ancient testimony of early Christians this next section would just come off as academia picking on Christians and the Bible but that is far from the truth. There are problems with the Bible and Christians need to come to grips with that.

Biblical scholar and critic Dr. F.H. Scrivener writes that:

In the second century we have seen too many instances of attempts to tamper with the text of Scripture, some merely injudicious, others positively dishonest”. (Introduction to the criticism of the New Testament)

Dr. Scrivener then goes on to say:

“it is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound, that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within 100 years after it was composed: and that Irenaeus and the African Fathers, and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syrian Church used inferior manuscripts” (Introduction to the criticism of the New Testament)

In the introduction to the New American Bible it is stated that modern critical analyze of the gospel of John:

“..makes it difficult to accept that the fourth gospel as it now stands was written by one man. Chapter 21 seems to have been added after the gospel was completed; it exhibits a Greek style somewhat different from the rest of the work… Within the gospel itself there are signs of some disorder; e.g., there are two endings to Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper” (NEW AMERICAN BIBLE, p.xxxvii)

The New American Bible also brought up an interesting fact that most Christians today do not realize.

It should be remembered that for the ancients authorship was a much broader concept than it is today. In their time a man could be called the ‘author’ of a work even though he did not write it. (NEW AMERICAN BIBLE, p.xxxvii)

It is more than probable that a disciple of Jesus named John had nothing to do with the gospel of John we read today in our bibles and was in fact written by someone centuries later who had never met John or Jesus. Even if John was the author how do we know which parts are from him or the persons who edited his work down through the centuries? These are important questions to ask.

One of the most common biblical manuscripts used to make our modern English translations is known today as the Nestle Text. Yet it was German Biblical scholar and textual critic Prof. Eberhard Nestle himself who warned us that:

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.” (Einfhrung in die Textkritik des griechischen Testaments)

Methodist biblical scholar, theologian and textual critic Dr. Vincent Taylor was desribed as:

‘one of the outstanding New Testament scholars of his day and theologian of great renown and influence’ with an ‘immense’ literary output.” (O. E. Evans, ‘Theologians of our Times’ in The Expository Times March 1964 vol. 75 no. 6 164-168)

Dr. Taylor wrote concerning certain scribes introducing their favorite theological beliefs into the Bible and taking away doctrines that they deemed were unacceptable, he said:

“The manuscripts of the New Testament preserve traces of two kinds of dogmatic alterations: those which involve the elimination or alteration of what was regarded as doctrinally unacceptable or inconvenient, and those which introduce into the Scriptures proof for a favorite theological tenet or practice” (The Text of the New Testament)

Maybe the most well known biblical scholar and new testament textual critic living today is Prof. Bart Ehrman, Bart Ehrman has written three New York Times best sellers, (Misquoting Jesus, God’s Problem, Jesus Interrupted). Misquoting Jesus dealt with the subject of textual criticism. In one of his many books dealing with early christianity, ‘The Orthodox corruption of Scripture,’ Prof. Ehrman wrote concerning early christian debates on the nature of Christ, he said that:

“…theological disputes, specifically disputes over Christology, prompted Christian scribes to alter the words of scripture in order to make them more serviceable for the polemical task. Scribes modified their manuscripts to make them more patently ‘orthodox’ and less susceptible to ‘abuse’ by the opponents of orthodoxy” (The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture)

What Prof. Erhman is saying is that some things in the bible were altered by certain scribes to make it fit with their pre-conceived notions of Christ. Now that their view was in the bible it made their job easier to debunk their opponents who might have held to a different view of who Christ was.

The Trinity

So far we have seen ancient and scholarly testimony that the Bible has been tampered with by men who would add or remove things they didn’t like in the scriptures so that the Bible would reflect their pre-conceived beliefs. Remember Dr. Taylor telling us that scribes; “would introduce into the Scriptures proof for a favorite theological tenet or practice.” No where does this apply more than to the doctrine of the trinity. At 1st John 5:7 the King James Version of the Bible tells us that:

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7 KJV)

Yet this part of scripture which seems to support the doctrine of the trinity is found no where in the earliest copies of 1st John. The Adam Clarke commentary says regarding 1st John 5:7 that:

“..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”. (Adam Clarke Commentary)

Another favorite verse of Christians who support the trinity comes from the gospel of Matthew.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20 KJV)

 Theologian F.C. Conybeare speaks of the preceding verse and says:

“In the course of my reading I have been able to substantiate these doubts of the authenticity of the text Mathew 28:19 by adducing patristic evidence against it, so weighty that in future the most conservative of divines will shrink from resting on it any dogmatic fabric at all, while the more enlightened will discard it as completely as they have its fellow-test of the three witnesses” (F.C. Conybeare, Hibbert Journal)

F.C. Conybeare then goes on to quote biblical scholar Dr. C.R. Gregory, and writes:

The Greek manuscripts of the text of the New Testament were often altered by the scribes, whoput into them the readings which were familiar to them, and which they held to be the right readings. (Canon and Text of the New Testament, 1907, p. 424)”

Even The Catholic Encyclopedia says:

“The baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by the Catholic Church in the second century.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, II, page 263)

Trinitarians claim that God is made up of three persons (father, son, holy ghost) who are all equally God but mysteriously they are all still one not three separate Gods. The son of course is Jesus Christ who Christians claim was God in human form. One of the verses used to support this claim is 1st Timothy 3:16, it says:

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1st Timothy 3:16)

This seems like an open and shut case that Jesus was God in human form. Christian scholar and textual critic Bruce Metzger says regarding this verse the pharse:

 God in the flesh; does not occur in an Greek manuscripts earlier than the 9th century….all ancient versions presuppose ‘hos’ or ‘ho’ – [he who] or [he]. The reading theos(god) arose…deliberately… to produce a verse that more clearly supports the Trinitarian position.” – (The Bible in Translation; Bruce Metzger)

Ladies and gentlemen what you have just witnessed is the creation of a God with the pen. This is a Christian who is admitting this fraud. The truth is all verses in the Bible which seems to support a trinity were always added to the bible at a later time and was never apart of the original document. I’ll end this part on the trinity with a quote describing what I am trying to say perfectly.

 It’s interesting to see that many of the scriptural “evidences” said to be in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity, are grounded in mistranslation, errors in textual transmission, and sometimes even outright forgery. These can often be exposed by even a cursory glance at an English/Greek interlinear Bible or a Greek concordance… “After all, if the Bible already clearly taught that God existed as ‘three co-equal and co-eternal persons,’ it should hardly seem necessary to tamper with the text. (The Trinity- A Doctrine Overdue for Extinction; Part 2″ Imperfections in the King James Version”by Ted Whitten)

Codex Bezae

Things weren’t only added to the bible some passages were edited out of the Bible. Codex Bezae is one of the oldest copies of the bible, it dates back to the fifth century. The Encyclopedia Britannica says that Codex Bazae:

“…has a text that is very different from other witnesses. Codex Bezae has many distinctive longer and shorter readings and seems almost to be a separate edition. Its ‘Acts, for example, is one-tenth longer than usual’” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

How can it be that there exist a bible that is said to be almost a separate edition? Which edition is correct our version today or Codex Bezae? These are very serious questions a sincere seeker of truth should ask.

Regarding this serious problem, Dr. Vincent Taylor wrote that Codex Bezae:

“…is characterized by a series of remarkable omissions in Luke, especially in chapters XXII and XXIV, and by many striking additions and variations in the Acts” (The Text of the New Testament, Dr. Vincent Taylor)

One of those significant textual omissions in Codex Bezae is found at Luke 6:5. In this version of the Bible it says:

The same day, [Jesus] saw a certain man working on the sabbath and said to him: Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed. But, if you do not know, you are accursed, and a trespasser of the law. (Codex Bezae “D” Luke 6.5)

Of course this saying of Jesus is alien to most Christians because it is no longer found in our copies of the Gospel of Luke, fortunately with the discovery of Codex Bezae we know this saying was originally in the bible, moreover a somewhat similar saying was found in the newly discovered Gospel of Thomas.

“If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the (Father’s) domain. If you do not observe the sabbath day as a sabbath day, you will not see the Father.” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying 27)

Coincidence? I think not. The missing verse from Codex Bezae had to removed from our bible because it showed that Jesus expected people to keep the laws of God which included observance of the Sabbath. By the way the true Sabbath is on Saturday not Sunday. Scribes who believed we didn’t have to keep any commandments of God found this saying unacceptable and refused to copy it and so it simply got edited out of the bible.

Conclusion

While I could have added more examples of biblical tampering I believe these examples should get any truth seeking Christian to question whether the Bible we have today is 100% the same as it was when it was first written. I think I have unquestionably demonstrated that the bible is not a perfect document and has in fact been changed in it’s history. The question Christians who believe in the inerrancy of the bible need to ask is why didn’t God protect the bible from being corrupted? Most Christians don’t want to confront such a question because it will most likely shatter their perfect little paradigm and get them to question their faith and to some Christians questioning your faith is a sin.

In part two of this series I will prove the biggest biblical forgery of all-time, that words spoken by God in the gospels were edited and changed by scribes to something God did not say. These words spoken by God himself are no longer found in the bible but they are found in the earliest copies of the bible and the wrintings of the early church fathers, and if it is true that God said these words there is a 0% chance Christianity is the correct religion which is why these words had to be censored. Stay tuned for part two of “Has the bible been Changed.”

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3 Comments

  1. May 9, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    WhAT ABOUT THE INTEL CONTAINED IN THE SEALS? IF WE ARE READING SEALED BIBLES WHEN THE SEALS ARE OPENED WILL THE WORLD DEFAULT TO THE EFFECTS OF iSAIAH 29?

  2. khristoz said,

    May 11, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Honestly i don’t know what you’re talking about Jason.

  3. May 11, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    Sorry Daniel 12 and Rev. 5 references seals…… Dan is to be sealed for a later time and Jesus has opened the 7 already.


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