Hearing and judgment errors.
3. Errors due to faulty hearing.
A modern Hebrew scroll, of the kind being used every Sabbath to read from.
As the demand for more copies of the Bible documents grew, centers for copying of Bibles were founded. In such a scriptorium one person would read out aloud what had been written. Now many scribes would be writing down what had been read, making several copies at the same time. When a scribe had to write what had been dictated, words that sound the same, but with different spelling, having different meanings, could be confused, as in English ‘there’ and ‘their’ or ‘great’ and ‘grate’.
There are many examples of this kind of error found in the manuscripts of the Bible. Consider the following example, causing a difference between the KJV and the NIV.
What was the purpose of the first epistle of John? (1John 1:4) Did he write it in order that the joy of the readers may be full, or that the joy of John and the other disciples be full?
MKJV: “And we write these things to you so that your (humōn) joy may be full.” (Manuscripts up to 8th century: =1; 9th – 12th centuries: =13)
NIV: “We write this to make our (hemōn) joy complete.” (Manuscripts up to 8th century: =4; 9th – 12th centuries: =6)
4. Errors due to wrong judgment.
How do you bake the famous original Whiley fruitcake?
My wife owns a few recipes of her late grand mother in her own handwriting. In some cases an extra ingredient had been written the margin next to the list of ingredients. We are always uncertain whether this ingredient had been part of the original and left out by mistake, or whether this had been her variation for a special treat. Was it part of the original recipe? What is more confusing is that in the recipe for this special fruitcake, someone else also had written some ingredients in the margin. Now we are really confused. How can we judge the additions Should we consider these? Are they corrections or variations? If only we could find the recipe of her great grand mother!
(At the bottom of a 9th Century Manuscript, Codex Boernerianus, we find this little note in Irish: “To come to Rome, Much trouble little of profit, The thing thou seekest here, If thou bring not with thee, thou findest not.”)
When a note written in the margin of some manuscript is included into a later copy, making it part of the text, it is called a gloss.
Sometimes synonyms, explanations, short notes or commentary were written in the margin of manuscripts of the Bible. Can you imagine the struggle going on in the mind of a scribe when he was confronted by such a case. The scribe could mistake such a remark as a correction of something that had been left out by mistake, and later written by someone else in the margin. Without the intention to “correct” or “alter” the text, a well meaning scribe could write it into the text where he deemed it necessary.
In Rom 8:1, Paul wrote: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Manuscripts up to 8th century: =4; 9th – 12th centuries: =2)
It is understandable that someone could have added an explanation as to how “in Christ ” should be understood, taking a cue from vs.4: “…who walk not according to the flesh.” (Manuscripts up to 8th century: =2; 9th – 12th centuries: =2)
During the ninth century, this gloss was expanded to the form as it presently appears in the MKJV.
MKJV: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Manuscripts up to 8thcentury: =0; 9th – 12th centuries: =12)
When modern translators take all the evidence into account, they consider this addition to be a gloss. What do you think?
Does the addition or omission of this phrase bring any Scriptural truth in the balance?
For more than 800 years it had not been part of the Scriptures. Do we need this addition by some monk or do we prefer the original?
Whenever this type of error is rectified in modern translations, it can easily seem as though certain words are deliberately omitted.
What is remarkable is that not a single Biblical principle or basis of faith is ever in dispute by alterations that occur in the different manuscripts.