The 'Missing' Bible Verses

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  • The 'Missing' Bible Verses

    I've had this small New Testament bible ever since I was a child and it was published by Gideons International. I used to bring it with me to read when there was time or during the daily commute to school and later to my work place. I've read the gospels several times and I'm very sure that I didn't see any blank verse on these books. Last Sunday, the subject at the church I attended was the miracle that Jesus did at a pool called Bethesda as written in the book of John, Chapter 5 verses 1 to 15. The church had been using the ESV bible and I was shocked to see that verse 4 was left blank! I was confused for a while and could not focus on the preaching.

    Here's what the Gideons International bible had on verse 4:

    For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

    When I got home, I searched for stories behind the 'missing' verse. I found out that there are other verses that were omitted on the NIV and ESV. I checked my physical copies of the bible - the NIV (there was no verse 4 either) and my Jerusalem Bible - Catholic (there's verse 4). Some sites claim that NIV, ESV, and other bible versions are unauthorized versions and that the bible is being corrupted. On the other hand, some sites claim that there were actually no missing verses as these verses were not there in the first place. While they say that the differences in versions have no impact on the core doctrines of the Christian faith, I can't help but ask if I'm using the right version of the bible and how far apart are these versions from each other.





  • #2

    The verse is not just missing in the ESV; the situation is the same in the NIV, NRSV, CEV, NLT, and the net Bible. If you use the NASB or NCV you will see the verse, but it’s been placed inside brackets, whereas the KJV and the NKJV contain verse 4 without any notation or demarcation.

    After 1900, translators used new manuscript discoveries from the 1800s, which revealed that the verse was likely not original. This is why verse 4 is listed in the pre-1900 KJV “as is” without brackets (the NKJV followed the KJV in this regard). More recent Bible translations (omitting or retaining the verse with brackets) give us a clearer picture of what the original product of inspiration looked like.
    God bless,
    William
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    • #3
      Speaking of missing verses...
      Some of the Dead Sea scrolls (oldest versions of the scriptures unearthed) include parts of the Old Testament as we know it, do you think it's possible for such archeological findings to be used to put together something of a complement likely to be missing pieces from the version that we have today or even cross-check what we have today with what they wrote back then? Or would they be misleading, seeing as the texts are largely broken and ill-preserved, thus creating text either taken out of context or even non-sensical or altogether wrong compared to what the author had originally written on paper?

      Some scrolls are unique and a different story altogether, but I was wondering if the differences and similarities between those texts and our modern versions of the Bible are worth investigating.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Until the invention of the printing press all Bibles had to be copied by hand and naturally there were errors made. Because we have so many copies of early manuscripts we can generally figure out which copies are in error. The differences that exist between translations are all minor and there are no cases which will affect any doctrines. The biggest disagreement is probably over whether Mark 16:9-20 belongs in the Bible. It is missing in some of the oldest manuscripts. If you read it carefully you will find nothing in it that isn't taught somewhere else in the Bible.
        Clyde Herrin's Blog
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        • #5
          This is very interesting. I had no idea how this worked. I've always been curious how it's known what should and should not go in the Bible. I hadn't really heard about missing verses per se. I have heard of stuff that people try to add, but I think they are full of beans.

          Thanks for the explanation there, William. That makes a lot of sense.

          Hmm, where did those verses come from then, theophilus? If they are missing in the manuscripts where did they originate?
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          • #6
            Hi thisnthat, I believe that the Bibles with the "missing" verses (or the ones that have that have the missing verses, but place them in brackets) were translated from the older manuscripts that didn't contain them (which is why they chose to bracket them, or leave them out altogether).
            Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

            "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

            "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

            "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

            "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
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            • #7
              Hi David Lee,

              Okay, thanks, but I still don't get it. Maybe I'm being dim here, but I'm confused. How can they be "translated" from older manuscripts that didn't contain them? If they aren't in the older manuscripts then where did they come from? Are there other sources of information that were used in conjunction with those manuscripts? Was more information found later?

              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by thisnthat View Post
                Hi David Lee,Okay, thanks, but I still don't get it. Maybe I'm being dim here, but I'm confused. How can they be "translated" from older manuscripts that didn't contain them? If they aren't in the older manuscripts then where did they come from? Are there other sources of information that were used in conjunction with those manuscripts? Was more information found later?
                Maybe I can shed some light on this. The short answer to your question is they couldn't be "translated from older manuscripts that didn't contain them."

                Originally posted by thisnthat View Post
                If they aren't in the older manuscripts then where did they come from?
                Later Scribes. The thing to keep in mind is that these were not attempts to change or distort passages. Most of the time these were kind of like explanatory notes or some other kind of comment written in the margins of the texts. Later other scribes would copy those margin notes into the body of the text.
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                • #9
                  Thanks Origen,. I think I was reading it wrong or something. This makes it more clear for me. So, when something is bracketed, is that like pointing out that it was a margin note?

                  This is a very interesting topic for me. It's not something I ever really learned about in Christian school or in church.
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Originally posted by thisnthat View Post
                    Thanks Origen. I think I was reading it wrong or something.
                    No problem.

                    Originally posted by thisnthat View Post
                    This makes it more clear for me. So, when something is bracketed, is that like pointing out that it was a margin note?
                    Kind of. I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression. Marginal notes were added for different reasons.
                    Last edited by Origen; 06-01-2017, 03:36 PM.
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