By-pass the note: and go directly to: A study of the Text of the New Testament

IT MUST be understood from the outset that I believe in the infallible Word of God.  I believe that the original manuscripts were inspired, inerrant, and infallible!  I believe the Bible is our final authority.  I also believe that God has preserved His Word!  The Bible, however, does not say how He would preserve it.  

Today we have over 5,500 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.  Within these various manuscripts there are by some counts up to 400,000 variant readings.  The overwhelming majority of these are spelling or such that in no way alters the true meaning.  For instance, "the Lord Christ Jesus" instead of "Jesus Christ."  Or there are many places where there is or is not a "the" before a noun. Other places may have the wording in a different order which may or may not alter the meaning of the text.   In general, however, over 90% of the manuscripts are in agreement.  Some have speculated that it is as high as 96-99% in agreement.  In that no one has all of the manuscripts in one place to make a complete comparison, it is difficult to say.

Some of these were simply mistakes that occur anytime a human being attempts to copy a large writing.  One must simply understand a little bit of how the original text were transmitted to realize that errors were very possible.  Some of these errors were then repeated and made their way into the text we have today.  

As humans, we are free moral agents.  We have the liberty to choose our course of action.  God could have made us to be robots so that everything we did was always right and according to His law.  But we have the choice.  Some times our poor choices are made more from ignorance than deliberate, willful, disobedience.  Other times, we give into the will of our flesh and willfully go against what we know to be right.  In reviewing the evidence of the manuscripts, there are errors of both kinds.  Those unknowingly made, and some willfully made.

I do want to say I do not rejoice when I find what seem to be an error made in any translation of the Word of God.  Whither it be in the KJV, the NIV, the NKJV, the RSV, the NRSV, the ASV, the NASV, the New World Translation, or virtually any other translation that may be available.  I realize some ones soul could very well be effected!  I also believe that if an individual is sincerely seeking after God, the Spirit can direct them to find the Truth, no matter the translation they may be using.  In the information you are about to read, there are some verses that evidence support they may have been added by scribes at some later time after the original writings.  I sincerely believe, in spite of these interpolations, the truth of the plan of Salvation, who God is, is still very evident!  

There are those today who claim the King James Version is infallible.  I have tried to read several books relating to this and have found the evidence does not seem to favor such a position.  I believe the KJV to be a good, or even excellent translation of the Word of God.  However, I also see some human influence I believe should causes one to take notice.  

When it is argued that God preserved His Word through the KJV, I must agree in a sense.  However, I do not believe it to be an infallible translation, or the only means through which He has done so.  For those who say the KJV is the Only way that God has preserved his Word for English speaking people, please consider the following.  There would be those for the some almost 1600 years before the KJV who did NOT have God's Word preserved to them in the same form as the KJV!  The Greek text that makes up the KJV, was not compiled until Erasmus's 3rd edition in 1522.  Erasmus completed his text by using seven different manuscripts (he also consulted Codex 69 in a few locations)!.  And then of course, he used Codex 61 for 1 John 5:7 in his third edition.




Codex 1 eap

12th century

Entire NT, except Revelation

Codex 1 r

12th century

Revelation, except 22:16-21

Codex 2 e

12th century

The Gospels

Codex 2 ap

12th century or later

Acts and the Epistles

Codex 4 ap

15th century

Acts and the Epistles

Codex 7 p

11th century

Pauline Epistles

Codex 817

15th century

The Gospels

Thus prior to 1516-1522 AD, these manuscripts had never been collected together to form One New Testament!  As you can see he had 3 manuscripts of the Gospels and Acts, 4 manuscripts of the Pauline Epistles, and only one manuscript of Revelation, and it lacked the last 6 verses.  Erasmus used Codex 2 e and Codex 2 ap as the main source for his text.  In fact, the actual manuscripts served as the printers copy except for Revelation.  These manuscripts still contain the various corrections written between lines of text and at times in the margins, these coming from the other  four manuscripts, although he apparently made little use of them.  For Revelation, Erasmus' copy was actually a commentary by Andreas Ceasarea, and thus difficult for the printer to use, so Erasmus had a copy made.  The copyist made several errors that are still contained in some Bibles printed today.  In that Codex 1 r was missing the final 6 verses, Erasmus retranslated these verses from the Latin Vulgate into Greek.  By doing so, he created some 20 errors that are not to be found in any Greek manuscripts anywhere.

I do want to say once again, I do not find great enjoyment out of pointing out some of the errors that I believe to exist in the KJV (some textual critics are said to sound thrilled).  It is a sad thing that there were those who deliberately altered God's Word.  It is just that in a pursuit of truth, where do you stop?  Do you blindly accept everything?  OR do you accept, research, verify?  

I also want to say that I do not take the warning found in Revelation 22:18-19 lightly.  It is with prayerfulness that I have approached this subject, and I would suggest that you do the same.  If you should come to a different conclusion, feel free to e-mail me and we can discuss our various thoughts.

God Bless!  


A study of the Text of the New Testament


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ęCopyright 2001 Randall D. Hughes