The 2001 Translation AboutSpurious 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 a small number of 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 writers should not make silly mistakes, but people in later times would be more likely to.
  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 would often break the passage or worsen it.

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.


List of 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.

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.

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 5:23

without a cause

Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes. Also it fundamentally changes the meaning of Jesus’ words and misses the point.

High

Matthew 6:13

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

Missing from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes.

High

Matthew 6:25

or what you will drink

Missing from the Sinaiticus Codex.

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. That seems odd, to say the least. 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

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 the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codexes.
  • Ancient writers Eusebius, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, Hesychius of Jerusalem, and Severus of Antioch state that these words are not original.
  • Also, other early Church fathers fail to quote the words.
  • No one has found papyrus fragments containing these words, which is odd if they were genuine.
  • In many manuscripts, these words are separated from the main text by extra spaces. Some Armenian manuscripts even say that the words were written by a man named Ariston.
  • 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.
  • Verse 9 says that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, whereas Matthew 28:1 says he rose on the last day of the week (the Sabbath). Although with a change in punctuation, it could read: ‘Now when we was risen: Early on the first day of the week...,’ and this would remove the contradiction.
  • There is a factual error, where it says in verse 9 that Jesus appeared to Mary from Magdala, but verse 2 in the same chapter (of the genuine gospel) explicitly says that she did not see him.
  • Another contradiction is that verses 6 and 7 (of the genuine Gospel) say that Jesus will appear to the disciples in Galilee, agreeing with with Luke and Acts. Yet these extra verses have him appearing to Mary from Magdala and two other disciples in verses 9 and 12 in the area around Jerusalem.
  • 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.

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 7:53 through to John 8:11 (the woman caught in adultery, known as the ‘Pericope adulterae’)

53And every man went to his own home. 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 previously he was talking to a group of men, and after the account he is talking to them again. Yet in the spurious account he is alone in the Temple, plus an entire day has passed.

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 direct manuscript evidence for this (it’s too early), but we do have some evidence from 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 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

TOTAL WORDS


FAQ

Q. Are the spurious words important?

Not really, no. Most either repeat what it says elsewhere, or clarify what is being said. Only a small number are serious enough to effect fundamental Jewish or Christian beliefs, and even then, they usually don’t because there are so many other texts talking about the same subject.

The largest fake texts are the conclusions to Mark, and the story of the woman caught in adultery. The ending to Mark seems to be a genuine effort to write one for the unfinished Gospel, even if it has inaccuracies. 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.

The biggest problem with Bibles is not spurious words. It’s deliberate mistranslation to support various dogmas. There’s also the issue of poor readability. Further, there is the use of old-fashioned words (e.g. soul) that have gained meanings not known to the original authors. That’s an especially big problem because readers then add in with their minds things not present in the text. We’ve tried to fix all of these problems in our translation.

The authenticity of the words is a relatively minor issue.

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, or add up both? 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 that are missing from the Greek Septuagint sources, but present in the Hebrew sources, and we don’t know why. Now, we use the Greek Septuagint as our primary Old Testament text, whereas other Bibles use the Hebrew Masoretic. Who are you going to follow to do your count? Us or them?

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 not? After all, one version is likely genuine. If so, which?

Indeed, in the Greek Septuagint, the book of Jeremiah is 1/3 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 it the other way around? Or was the Greek just never completed? Or did it later lose many of its pages? 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.

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 and create a pure, uncorrupted text, there are two good reasons to keep the words in and cross them out:

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

We hope so! 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 when we discover some scroll somewhere.


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