21. Expected complements and Geographical Difficulties.
In a previous post I paid attention to some intentional alterations made in some Manuscripts of the Bible. Though many may be deemed trivial and don’t influence our faith or any doctrinal belief, I personally do not want to build on anything that God had not given Himself. Even today I am sometimes influenced by, or my eyes opened by some important aspect, yet if it is not part of God’s own given Word, I would not build my faith upon it.
I prefer that learned scholars of the Bible and its documents, as well as modern translators adhere to what might most probably portray the original autographs. Even so I would like to know the facts and judge for myself!
Let’s look at some other intentional alterations found in New Testament manuscripts.
3. Addition of expected complements or adjuncts
Part of codex Boernerianus, ±850 with Latin interlinear. Copied from The Center for the study of New Testament Manuscripts
Another form of deliberate alteration of the text is the addition of what could be expected in a sentence. Sometimes scribes tried to complete or round off what they thought to be incomplete.
Examples: In Mat.9:13, Matthew quotes Jesus’ words as: (NIV): “…I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. “ It was elaborated to (MKJV): “…I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. “
In the following passages taken from the MKJV, the later additions are printed in bold: Mat.26:3: Then the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, assembled together to the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas.
Mat.6:4,6: And your Father who sees in secret Himself shall reward you openly. Here in Matthew 6:1-6 the emphasis is on the fact that our good deeds, whether it is the giving of alms or our prayers, it should be a matter between ourselves and our Father in Heaven. It should have nothing to do with others. Yet the addition of “openly” does exactly the opposite of the intention. It promises being lauded before other bystanders and not being a matter just between ourselves and our Father!
Gal.6:17 is another good example of a growing text. The earliest form of the text, preserved in manuscripts p46 ±200, Vaticanus ±350 and Ephraemi ±450, is found in the NIV: “…for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.“ Later some pious scribes could not resist to elaborate on the unadorned “Jesus” and inflated the name as follows: “…the LordJesus.” (as in the MKJV) in the manuscripts Sangermanensis ±950, Mosquensis ±950, Angelicus ±850 and several later manuscripts. Also: “…the Lord Jesus Christ.” Written into the Sinaiticus at some late date, and even : “…our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the colorful codex Boernerianus ±850 and quoted this way by several old Church Fathers.
4. To clear up historical or geographical difficulties.
Everybody makes mistakes. Spelling mistakes are evident in all handwritten documents. Sometimes someone is quoted wrongly or people are confused when they have to remember at which place something happened. When something like that happens in the Bible, should we correct the evangelist or writer?
In the early manuscripts the combined quote from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 was indicated in Mark 1:2-3 as (NIV): 2It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ Later the name Isaiah was changed to the Prophets, as it still is rendered in the Modern King James Version.
Origen (who died in 254) encountered what he considered a geographical problem in John 1:28, and changed the name of the town from Bethany(as it is in the NIV) to Bethabara. (MKJV): “These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. “ This is a typical example of how an alteration made by a church father in his personal documents could end up in the Bible. Although no less than fourteen of the eighteen manuscripts we have up to the ninth century have Bethany, Bethabara appeared more frequently in later manuscripts and also in the manuscript Erasmus used as source for his printed version and therefore also in the KJV.
Should we adhere to John’s original version, or accept Origen’s alteration?
Expected complements are exactly that. They are expected, and mostly unnecessary but sometimes an addition can shift the focus of the pericope while geographical alterations are really trivial.
I am convinced that the way God had given us his Word, is best. No alteration is needed!