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    Spurious texts we’ve crossed out

    The Angel of Death flying in Egypt
    And there was a cry in Egypt, by Arthur Hacker, 1897

    Scholars have identified spurious, or fake, words in the Bible. Some of these have already been removed from popular Bible translations. However, the 2001 Translation is the only translation to be thorough, open, and honest in identifying and crossing them out in our Bible text.

    Unfortunately, most Bible translations are sponsored by a particular Church, or a committee of denominations. If the translation does not say what they want it to say, they will reject it. This has led Bible translators to feel pressured into including words, sentences, verses, and even entire passages that they know are fake. Often it’s because the fake words have worked their way into Church dogmas as ‘proof texts’ (e.g. ‘these three are one’), or popular passages that readers expect to see (e.g. the woman caught in adultery).

    Our translation has no such pressures. In the 2001 Translation, we identify and cross out everything that is known to fake, or strongly suspected to be so. Our volunteers have also identified words and verses that other translators have not yet marked as spurious.

    If people don’t like our approach, then they’re free to use some other Bible instead.

    How we identify spurious text

    We look for the following reasons. Many verses are declared spurious by having a combination of the following reasons. A single internal reason would not be used by itself.

    Manuscript reasons:

    1. The words are missing from the oldest and most reliable manuscripts (e.g. Matthew 6:13).
      This is direct evidence that they were added later.
    2. The wording has different fundamental meanings in different manuscripts (e.g. Acts 7:16).
      This suggests that there was no original to check against, and were probably common notes added by many people before being transposed into the text.
    3. The words jump around in different places in different manuscripts (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:33).
      This suggests that earlier copyists knew they were unoriginal, so copied them in different places as marginal notes until, eventually, different copyists transposed it into the text wherever they found it.

    Internal reasons:

    1. The words are out of context and break the narrative (e.g. Matthew 27:52-53).
      Original words would not do this, but later additions would. This, by itself, would not be enough evidence to declare a passage spurious.
    2. They say things that are factually incorrect (e.g. Daniel 9:1).
      The original inspired writers could not make silly mistakes, but later persons inserting fake words could easily do so.
    3. The words reflect later dogmas that nobody believed at the time (e.g. 1 John 5:7-8).
      An original writer would not say something that would require a time machine.
    4. Removing the words allows the passage to flow better or to make more sense.
      If a passage is spurious, removing it would either make no difference or actually improve the text. Removing original words could break the passage or worsen it (usually, but not always).

    List of suspected spurious texts we’ve crossed out

    There are several small additions to the Bible text (usually just the odd word), especially the Gospels, which people added during the Middle Ages – but most of these were already been removed when translators produced the first English Bibles. We only list spurious texts that are still included in many modern Bibles.

    We are not dogmatic about any particular text being spurious. These are only educated guesses. That’s one reason why we keep them in our Bible text, visible, but crossed out – just in case they are genuine after all.

    Levels of certainty

    The spurious texts are categorized by certainty:

    Very High = Multiple manuscript reasons AND multiple internal reasons.

    High = Multiple manuscript reasons OR multiple internal reasons.

    Good = Missing from one important codex OR has one persuasive internal reason.

    This section is incomplete and still being prepared. Last updated June 2021.

    Text Reason(s) Certainty

    Joshua 10:15

    And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

    Present in all major translations.

    Missing from most Greek manuscripts and excluded from critical editions. Also breaks the narrative somewhat, unless there is some other explanation not given in the text.

    High

    Matthew 6:13

    For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

    Present in KJV, removed from nearly all others.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Although it is present in the Aramaic, this may be a later corruption either copied from the Greek or introduced to the Aramaic and then copied into the Greek.

    High

    Matthew 6:25

    or what you will drink

    Present in all major translations.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex.

    Good

    Matthew 10:8

    raise the dead

    Present in all major translations.

    Omitted from ‘the best manuscripts’ according to Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers.

    Good

    Matthew 16:2-3

    He answered and said to them: ‘When it’s evening, you say, ‘The weather will be fair, for the sky is red.’ Then in the morning, ‘It will be bad weather, because the sky is red and overcast.’ Hypocrites! You know how to read the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times.’

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes.

    High

    Matthew 17:21

    However, this kind won’t go out except by prayer and fasting.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. This is one of many insertions by someone who was really, really into fasting. Possibly copied from Mark 9:29 by someone later on.

    High

    Matthew 18:11

    For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, and all manuscripts prior to the 5th century. The passage is quoted by Eusebius, Jerome, and other writers, who all fail to mention these words. Probably copied from Luke 19:10 in an attempt to harmonize the four gospels.

    Very High

    Matthew 18:12

    into the mountains

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Different manuscripts disagree as to which clause the words belong (did he leave the sheep in the mountains, or go off looking into the mountains?).

    High

    Matthew 20:16

    for many are called, but few chosen.

    Missing from Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, and several ancient translations. The words are copied from Matthew 22:14, so they are genuine, just not here.

    High

    Matthew 23:14

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer. Therefore, you shall receive the greater damnation.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus ancient translations into other ancient languages. In many manuscripts it moves around in some manuscripts, being before verse 13! It was probably copied from Luke 20:47.

    Very High

    Matthew 24:3

    of your coming and the end of the world?

    The parallel accounts in Mark and Luke do not mention these words, yet they speak of something incredible: the end of the world. It seems odd, to say the least, that such important words would be left out. Also, like many spurious words, they are out of context, and removing them causes the passage to flow better (and indeed, they do not exist in Mark and Luke and those accounts do not suffer).

    See the translator note.

    High

    Matthew 24:41

    women shall be

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. However, in what may be the original Aramaic, the words are feminine, so ‘women’ would be implied.

    Good

    Matthew 27:52-53

    52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised 53 and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many

    Despite the incredible events described, they are missing from the parallel account in Luke 23:45, and not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. The words are out of context and break the chronology. The words contradict other Bible statements, such as 1 Corinthians 15 where the Apostle argues that nobody has been resurrected yet. There are also some differences in the wording in the oldest manuscripts, especially the Sinaiticus Codex.

    See the translator note.

    High

    Matthew 28:19

    baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

    These words are missing from the parallel accounts at Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:6.

    All other instructions for baptism in the Bible omit these words (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:15-16, Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5, Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27).

    The ancient Christian writer Eusebius quoted this verse 18 times over a period of 36 years. The spurious words did not appear in his quotes made before the Council of Nicaea; they only appeared afterwards. Ironically, this man may be the one responsible for inserting these spurious words.

    See the translator note.

    High

    Mark 4:37

    until it was (nearly) full

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex. Different wording in different manuscripts (full, vs nearly full).

    High

    Mark 6:11

    Truly I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgement, than for that city.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus some ancient translations. Duplicated from Matthew 10:15.

    High

    Mark 7:16

    If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Seems to be copied from elsewhere in Mark.

    High

    Mark 9:44

    Where the worm doesn’t die, and the fire isn’t quenched.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. The words appear to be genuine, but are copied from verse 48, probably as some sort of poetic flourish.

    High

    Mark 9:46

    Where the worm doesn’t die, and the fire isn’t quenched.

    See above.

    High

    Mark 10:30

    houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex.

    Good

    Mark 11:26

    But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven won’t forgive your sins.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus some manuscripts of ancient translations. The sentiment is copied from Matthew 6:15.

    High

    Mark 15:28

    And the scripture was fulfilled, which says, ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus all manuscripts prior to the late 6th century. Copied from Luke 22:37.

    High

    Mark 16 – the short ending

    But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself (appeared to them and) sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.

    • Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus the vast majority of manuscripts. Only appears in a very small number.
    • Most manuscripts have the longer ending (shown below).
    • The Vaticanus Codex deliberately leaves a blank column where the Gospel’s ending should be.
    • Ancient writers Eusebius and Jerome tell us that any text after verse 8 is spurious.
    • The Gospel of Mark was probably never finished, and this was added later to give it a conclusion.

    Very High

    Mark 16:9-20 – the long ending

    9 Now when Jesus had risen early on the first day of the week, he first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from out of whom he had cast seven demons. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 When they had heard that he was alive, and that she’d seen him, they didn’t believe it.
    12 After that, he appeared in another form to two of them as they walked, and went into the country. 13 So they went and told it to the others: who didn’t believe them either.
    14 Afterwards, he appeared to the eleven as were eating a meal, and scolded them for their disbelief and hardness of heart, because they didn’t believe the ones who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them: ‘Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to everyone. 16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that doesn’t believe will be damned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they’ll cast out demons; they’ll speak in different languages; 18 they’ll pick up snakes; and if they drink something poisonous, it won’t hurt them; they’ll lay their hands on sick people, and they’ll recover.’
    19 Then, after the Lord had spoken to them, he rose up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming his words with miraculous signs. Amen.

    • Missing from some of our oldest codexes, the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.
    • Missing from the Syriac Sinaiticus, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts.
    • Ancient writers Eusebius, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, Hesychius of Jerusalem, and Severus of Antioch state that these words are not original.
    • No one has (yet) found papyrus fragments containing these words, which is odd if they were genuine.
    • In many ancient manuscripts, these words are separated from the main text by extra spaces or in some way marked out as being different. So people widely understood that it was not part of the original text, even if they still accepted it as scripture.
    • One Armenian manuscript from 989 CE (Matenadaran 2374) says that the words were written by a man named “Ariston the Priest” – traditionally a colleague of Peter.
    • The words themselves reflect later beliefs in miracles like picking up snakes, and drinking poisons, something that developed much later, probably the 2nd century CE.
    • These words introduce a contradiction, since it says in verse 9 that Jesus appeared to Mary from Magdala, but verse 2 in the same chapter (of the non-disputed part) explicitly says that she did not see him.
    • The writing style of these extra verses is different from the rest of Mark, even seeing a sudden appearance of unique words and phrases not found elsewhere. Some argue that these verses were taken from some other uninspired history of Jesus that is now lost.
    • The Gospel of Mark was probably never finished, or the ending was lost somehow. Some say that Mark was martyred in Rome before he could finish it, others say the last leaf from a folio was lost. Nobody knows what really happened.

    Very High

    Luke 4:8

    Get behind me, Satan, for...

    Missing from the Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus Codexes, plus many others. Probably copied from Matthew 4:10 or Mark 8:33.

    High

    Luke 9:55-56

    and said, You don’t know what kind of spirit you are. For the Son of man didn’t come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus Codexes, plus many other later ones.

    High

    Luke 17:12

    who stood at a distance

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex.

    Good

    Luke 17:36

    Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

    Missing from most Greek manuscripts, including the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Probably repeated from Matthew 24:40.

    High

    Luke 23:5

    teaching

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex.

    Good

    Luke 23:17

    For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.

    Missing from the Alexandrinus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus some others. It also moves around, depending on the source, sometimes after verse 18. Contradicts Matthew, Mark, and John by saying it’s a necessity for Pilate to release a criminal rather than a custom.

    Very High

    Luke 23:34

    Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes.

    High

    John 4:9

    Jews have no dealings with Samaritans

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Factually incorrect. See note.

    High

    John 5:3-4

    ...waiting for the moving of the water. 4For at a certain time, an Angel would go into the pool and disturb the water; whoever was first to step in the water after its disturbance was cured of whatever disease he had.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus the Alexandrianus in the original hand. Many other early manuscripts also leave the words out. The exact wording also differs between manuscripts. Further, the wording itself uses words and terms not found anywhere else in John.

    Very High

    John 5:25

    and it is now

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex. Is self-contradictory: ‘is coming’ vs ‘is now,’ indicating that it’s an interpolation.

    High

    John 5:53

    And every man went to his own home.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus the Alexandrianus. Not in the Aramaic.

    Very High

    John 8:1 through to John 8:11 (the woman caught in adultery, known as the ‘Pericope adulterae’)

    8 1Jesus went to the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning, he again went into the temple, and all the people came to him. He then sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman who was found committing adultery. After they’d presented her to everyone, 4 they say to him: ‘Master, this woman was found committing adultery, caught in act! 5 Now, in the Law, Moses commanded us that such a person should be stoned [to death]; but what do you say?’ 6 They asked this to trap him, so they might get [something] to accuse him with. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as if he hadn’t heard them. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up, and said to them: ‘Whoever among you that has no sin, let him be the first one throw a stone at her.’ 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And those who heard him, being convicted by their own conscience, went away, one by one; first the oldest, right up to the last one. Then Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing there. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw nobody except the woman, he said to her: ‘Woman, where are your accusers? Has anyone condemned you?’ 11 She said: ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said unto her: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and don’t sin anymore.’

    • Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes, plus the Alexandrianus. Not in the Aramaic.
    • Widely regarded as spurious, even if the story may be a true folktale about Jesus, it is not authentic to John’s Gospel.
    • It moves around in different manuscripts, with some putting it in Luke.
    • It slightly contradicts the context in John, as before John 7:53, he was talking to a group of men, and after the account he appears to be talking to the same group again. Yet if we believe the spurious account, an entire day has passed in between, and one moment he is alone with the woman, and is then suddenly back with the same Pharisees he was talking to the previous day. While it’s possible that things happened this way, it could just be a symptom of this story being inserted later.

    Very High

    John 21:25

    And there are many other things that Jesus did, and if they were all written down, I suppose that even the world itself couldn’t contain the books that would be written. Amen.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Also, what it says is illogical, although it could be speaking in hyperbole to make a point.

    High

    Acts 7:16

    And their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were laid in the tomb that Abraham had purchased with silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

    Multiple manuscript families contradict each other on the wording and meaning. Factual inaccuracies. Breaks the narrative. See the translator note.

    Very High

    Acts 8:37

    And Philip said: ‘If you believe it with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said: ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’

    Missing from all early manuscripts, and appears in no ancient translation. It only entered modern Bibles because 15th century scholar Erasmus found it scribbled in the margin of a manuscript, and therefore only entered Western European Bibles. The words may be true, but only passed down by tradition, and were not in the original text of Acts.

    Very High

    Acts 9:5-6

    It’s hard for you to kick against the cattle prods.’ And he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what would you have me do?’ And the Lord said to him:

    Found in no ancient documents. Copied and combined from Acts 22:10 and Acts 26:14. Was added by 15th century Erasmus, and therefore only entered Western European Bibles in recent centuries.

    Very High

    Acts 13:42

    ...the Jews ... the Synagogue ... the Gentiles...

    Missing from every manuscript prior to the 9th century. Interestingly, the added words, ‘the Gentiles,’ have been used by some to support the idea that modern Christians should worship on the Sabbath, or Saturday because Gentiles are supposedly in the Synagogue.

    High

    Acts 15:34

    However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.

    Missing from all the oldest manuscripts, and some ancient translations. There are also different variants, with some ending the text with ‘and Judas traveled alone,’ and some then add, ‘to Jerusalem.’ What it says may actually be factually correct, but these words are not original.

    High

    Acts 23:9

    Let us not fight against God.

    Missing from all the oldest manuscripts, only appears in the 9th century. Copied from Acts 5:39.

    High

    Acts 24:6-8

    ...and would have judged according to our law. But the chief captain, Lysias, came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come to you,...

    Missing from all the oldest manuscripts, and have slight variations in those in which it does appear. The words may be a traditional explanation, and what they say may be true, but they are not part of the original text.

    High

    Acts 28:29

    And when he had said these words, the Jews left, and greatly arguing among themselves.

    Missing from all the oldest manuscripts and many ancient translations. What is said may be true, but the words are not original.

    High

    Romans 11:6

    But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.

    Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes.

    High

    Romans 16:24-27

    24 So may the loving care of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One be with you all. Amen. 25 Now, to the One that can make you strong in the good news that I declare through my preaching about Jesus the Anointed One and about the revelation of the mystery that has remained a secret through the ages, 26 but which have now been made known through the prophetic scriptures and which is being seen among all the nations by the command of the God of ageless time to promote obedience by faith; 27 Yes, to God who is the only truly wise One, be the glory through Jesus (the Anointed) through the ages. May it be so.

    This very wordy and flowery ending may have been created and added sometime in the 2nd century. We don’t have any manuscripts with it absent (it’s too early), but we do have some other evidence from both the manuscripts and recorded history. Consider the following:

    • History records that around the year 144, Marcion, a bishop, decided to remove all of chapters 15 and 16 from Romans, and placed a version of these spurious words on to the end of chapter 14. He was considered a heretic and excommunicated for his views that Jesus’s Father was a different god from that in the Old Testament (similar to some Gnostic beliefs). Perhaps he took offence to the words at Romans 15:20 or Romans 16:17, 18, and so removed the final two chapters and wrote his own new ending.
    • Verse 24 is missing from all the oldest manuscripts.
    • Verse 24 has variants – some not saying ‘Christ’ (the Anointed One), and some not adding ‘Amen.’
    • Verse 24 is largely copied from verse 20 of the same chapter.
    • Some manuscripts move the words in verse 24 to after verse 27.
    • Verse 25 appears in some manuscripts after verse 14. So the words jump around a lot – typical of spurious additions.
    • There exist fifteen slightly different versions of these words in different manuscripts. Again, very typical of spurious additions.
    • Romans actually ends with a perfectly good and complete goodbye in verses 20-23. This extra ending is superfluous.
    • These words have a different style, and contains some unique phrases not found elsewhere, such as ‘God of ageless time,’ and ‘obedience by faith.’ Again, typical of spurious additions.

    What the words say, and their sentiment, may well be true. However, that’s not the point. The point is whether they are genuine, and it seems that they might not be. Even if the entire passage is not spurious, verse 24 certainly is.

    High (verse 24)

    Good (the rest)

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35

    34 The women should remain silent in the congregation… they shouldn’t be allowed to speak out. Rather (as the Law says), they should be submissive. 35 And if they wish to know something, let them ask their men [when they get] home; for it’s disgraceful for a woman to speak out in a congregation.

    These verses are not missing from any manuscript, but:

    • The words move around in different manuscripts, sometimes appearing at the end of the chapter. This usually suggests that a text began as a marginal note which was later interpolated into the text.
    • The words directly contradict other statements by Paul – even in the same letter, e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:5, 13
    • The words contain a factual inaccuracy, the Law does not say what it claims.
    • Removing it makes the passage flow better.

    See the translator note.

    High

    1 Colossians 1:14

    through his blood

    These words are missing from all the oldest manuscripts. They seem to be copied from Ephesians 1:7, where the words are genuine. So they were either added to create some sort of harmony, or had started as as marginal note, like so many of these spurious additions.

    Very high

    1 John 5:7-8

    For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Breath, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on the earth...

    • Missing from every ancient Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Slavic, Georgian, Coptic, and Arabic manuscript.
    • Did not appear in any Greek manuscript of the Bible until the 14th or 15th century – approximately 1,400 years after the Apostle wrote this Bible book.
    • It does appear in one 10th century Greek manuscript, but it’s clearly been added by someone later on, believed to be in the 19th century!
    • The words themselves have three significant variants, typical for a spurious addition.
    • The Church fathers did not mention this verse, even when collecting verses that they argued supported the Trinity doctrine.
    • Clement of Alexandria quoted these verses and didn’t include these words.
    • These words first appeared in the 4th century, but not in a Bible manuscript – they are found in a homily called Liber Apologeticus by a writer called Priscillian of Ávila.
    • The words were first added to the Latin Vulgate translation, where it remained alone until recent centuries. However, even then, they are missing from the two oldest Vulgate manuscripts, the Codex Fuldensis and the Codex Amiatinus. This suggests that Jerome, the creator of the Vulgate, did not recognize the words. One quote of his that mentions it, is thought to be from a pseudo-Jerome, a later impostor.
    • Even several Catholic Bibles now omit the ‘verse,’ including the Jerusalem Bible and the New American Bible.
    • Easily the most well-known fake verse in the Bible. Entire books have been written about this.

    Also see the translator note.

    Very High

    Revelation 10:6

    and the sea, and the things which are therein

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex (the earliest Greek) and the Crawford Codex (the earliest Aramaic).

    High

    Revelation 16:11

    of their sores ... of their deeds

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex.

    Good

    Revelation 16:17

    from (before) the throne

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex. Variants between manuscripts. Some including ‘before.’

    High

    Revelation 18:22

    of whatsoever craft he be ... and the stone of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex, and the Aramaic texts.

    High

    Revelation 20:5

    The rest of the dead didn’t come to life until the end of the thousand years

    Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex, the Vaticanus, and the Aramaic texts.

    Also see the translator note.

    Very High

    TOTAL WORDS


    FAQ

    Q. Are the spurious words important?

    To us, every spurious word is important. Each one must be hunted down and crossed-out.

    Doctrinally, it depends. Most spurious words just repeat what is said elsewhere, or clarify what is being said. Therefore, they do no actual harm. Only a small number are serious enough to mislead sincere Christians. For example, the baptism instructions in Matthew 28:19 are used by Churches worldwide, yet there’s a strong possibility that it contains several spurious words added in later centuries.

    Some fake texts may actually be accurate in what they say, but are still not part of the original text. For example, the conclusions to Mark seem to be genuine efforts to complete the unfinished Gospel. The story of the woman caught in adultery may actually be true, passed down as a folktale; it just wasn’t part of the original text.

    Q. How much of the Bible text is spurious?

    Very little. If you want an exact number, it’s hard to say, as there are many different ways to count it.

    For example, there are two competing spurious endings of Mark; so do you count the long one, the short one, add up both, or discount them entirely because they’re so well-known? Also, which language would you count in? Words like ‘and’ and ‘with’ are prefixes in Aramaic, but not Greek; so do you count that as a separate word or not? And how many texts do you even consider to be spurious? Some translators are very conservative about declaring a text spurious, whereas we’re quite trigger-happy!

    Also, are you counting all spurious words that have ever been added over the centuries? Because many of them were already removed when translators produced the first English Bibles. It would seem silly to count spurious words that no English-speaker has ever read.

    Further, are you counting the spurious words in the King James Version (the most famous English translation), or the fewer number that appear in the more modern New International Version (the most popular English translation today)?

    As for the Old Testament, there are some verses not present in the Greek Septuagint sources, but present in the Hebrew sources, and we don’t know why. Do you count those as spurious or missing?

    Some verses in the Greek Septuagint version of Proverbs are not missing, but instead are completely different from those found in the Hebrew text. So would we count them as spurious or just different?

    Indeed, in the Greek Septuagint, the book of Jeremiah is much shorter than in the Hebrew Masoretic text. Why is that? Nobody knows. Is the Greek version the authentic one, while the extra chapters in the Hebrew are fake? Or is the Greek just incomplete? We have no idea. So do you count those extra verses in the Hebrew version as spurious, or not?

    You see, it’s not a simple question. The important thing to know is that the number is low, and does not effect the fundamental message of the Bible – especially when a translation like ours actively tries to identify and cross them all out.

    Q. How do spurious texts get in the Bible in the first place?

    They are most likely added accidentally by a process called interpolation. See the translator note on interpolations.

    Q. Instead of crossing them out, why not just remove them entirely?

    While it’s tempting to try to create a pure, uncorrupted text, there are two good reasons to keep the words in and cross them out:

    • We might be wrong about it being spurious. So let’s keep it in, but crossed-out, just in case.
    • A spurious text may have seriously misled a reader in the past, and showing it crossed-out brings it to their attention.

    Q. Will we find more spurious texts in the future?

    We hope so! We want to find them all. As manuscripts continue to be discovered and made available to researchers, we will find more – most likely in Matthew, the book with the most variant manuscripts.

    Later spurious additions are easier to identify than earlier ones because in later times have more manuscripts from more locations. Spurious additions made in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries would be extremely difficult to identify. We can only identify early ones via internal reasons (listed above).

    That’s why it’s very foolish to base an entire interpretation or doctrine on just one ‘proof text,’ or on a single word, as many religious leaders are prone to do (e.g. presence or generation). Otherwise it may suddenly fall apart upon a single discovery.