This is a question that has frequently been asked over the years as a sort of Bible Trivia question and for centuries the correct answer from anyone who knew their Bible was John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” Just 9 letters in English and a period at the end of the sentence.
But now we have a “second opinion” and another answer. It’s found in the corrupt NIV, Common English bible 2011 and Dan Wallace’s NET version 2006. No longer is the shortest verse in the Bible John 11:35 “Jesus wept”, but, according to the NIV, CEB and the NET version, it is Luke 20:30. In the NIV, Common English bible 2011 and Dan Wallace's NET version 2006 we read simply “The second” without even having a period at the end. It’s not even a complete sentence. All we have there is a subject with no verb and no ending.
Do you think there just might be something missing?
In the context of the passage the Sadducees, who denied that there is a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him about a hypothetical case of 7 brethren who each in turn took to themselves the same woman as their wife. Each of the 7 brothers died before the next took her to be his wife, and they all died childless. And the Sadduces think they have trapped our Lord with an unanswerable question which they get to in verse 33.
There they ask Him: “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.”
But during this line of questioning, we read in Luke 20:30 in the King James Bible - “And the second TOOK HER TO WIFE, AND HE DIED CHILDLESS.”
και ελαβεν ο δευτερος την γυναικα και ουτος απεθανεν ατεκνος
However in the NIV, NET and Common English Bible we read for the whole of verse 30 - “The second”. The ESV, NASB, Holman all have “AND THE SECOND”
και ο δευτερος
The reading in the King James Bible and all Reformation bibles is that found in the Majority of all Greek manuscripts including Alexandrines, W, Theta, Psi, the Old Latin, the Latin Vulgate - “ et sequens accepit illam et ipse mortuus est sine filio”, the Syriac Peshitta, Curetonian, and some Coptic Boharic manuscripts.
The phrase “TOOK HER TO WIFE, AND HE DIED CHILDLESS” is omitted by Sinaticus, Vaticanus and D. Versions that omit these words are the RV, ASV 1901, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NIV, NASB, Dan Wallace’s NET version, the Jehovah Witness New World Translation and the modern Catholic versions like the New Jerusalem bible 1985.
Some critical text versions put the additional words into the text, but [in brackets]. The Voice of 2012 reads like this - “ The second [took her as his wife and then he died childless,]
The Names of God Bible (another critical text version) of 2011 actually goes against the UBS/Nestle-Aland/Vatican Greek text and puts additional words into the text with no [brackets] and no footnotes.
It reads: “Then the second BROTHER MARRIED THE WIDOW.” NO text reads this way. They just made it up. But at least it makes a whole sentence.
Other Critical text versions also add words to the text that are not found in the Critical text they are translating from.
The Message 2002 says: “The second MARRIED HER AND DIED,”
And the Easy to Read Version (another critical text version) of 2006 has: “Then the second BROTHER MARRIED THE WOMAN, AND HE DIED.” (Again, NO text reads this way; they just made it up.)
The Catholic Connection
The earlier Catholic Douay-Rheims 1582 as well as the Douay 1950 both read as does the King James Bible. “And the second TOOK HER TO WIFE, AND HE DIED CHILDLESS.”
However things began to get shorter and shorter as they continued to revise the Catholic versions. The 1970 St. Joseph New American bible says: “Next, the second BROTHER MARRIED THE WIDOW.” Again, NO text actually reads this way.
But now the 1985 New Jerusalem reads just like the NIV, NET and the Common English bible and merely says: “THE SECOND”
Agreeing with the Traditional Reformation text - “And the second TOOK HER TO WIFE, AND HE DIED CHILDLESS.” are the following Bible translations: The Anglo Saxon Gospels 1000 A.D.- Ða nam oðer hig & wæs dead butan bearne; Wycliffe 1395 “and the brothir suynge took hir, and he is deed with outen sone”, Tyndale 1534 - “And the seconde toke the wyfe and he dyed chyldlesse.”, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Mace N.T. 1729, John Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Websters 1833, Lamsa’s 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Darby 1890, Young’s 1898, the NKJV 1982, Third Millennium Bible 1998, Concordant Version 2006, English Majority Text Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “And the second took her to be his isha, and he died childless.”, the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2011, the World English Bible 2012 and the Modern Literal Version New Testament 2015.
Foreign language bibles that have ALL the words in the text of Luke 20:30 are the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, the Reina Valera’s from 1909 to 2011 - “Y la tomó el segundo, el cual también murió sin hijos.”, the French Olivetan 1535, French Martin 1744, French Ostervald 1996 and the French Louis Second 2007 - “Le deuxième a épousé la veuve et est mort sans enfants,”, Luther’s German Bible 1545 and the German Schlachter bible 2000 - “Und der andere nahm das Weib und starb auch kinderlos.”, the Italian Diodati 1649, La Nuova Diodati 1991 and the 2006 La Bibbia della Gioia - “Il secondo la prese come moglie, e morí anch'egli senza lasciare figli.” and the Portuguese La Biblia Sagrada and O Livro 2000 - “ O irmão dele casou com a viúva, mas também ele morreu. Continuava a não haver descendência.”
Other foreign language bibles that contain ALL the words in Luke 20:30 are the Hungarian Károli Bible, the Romanian Cornilescu bible and the Fidela Bible 2014, the Afrikaans Bible 1953, the Maori Bible, the Norwegian En Leavened Bok 1988 - “Broren hans giftet seg med enken, men de fikk heller ikke barn før han døde.”, the Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013 - “ I ożenił się z nią drugi, lecz i ten umarł bezdzietnie.”, the Quichua-Chimborazo Bible 2010, the Finnish Bible 1776, the Russian Synodal Version - “взял ту жену второй, и тот умер бездетным;”, the Czech BKR, the Smith & van Dyke Arabic Bible - “فأخذ الثاني المرأة ومات بغير ولد.”, the Dutch Staten Vertaling bible, and the Tagalog Ang Salita ng Diyos bible 1998 - “Kinuha siya ng pangalawa upang maging asawa at ang lalaki ay namatay na walang anak.”
They are also in the Modern Greek Bible - και ελαβεν ο δευτερος την γυναικα, και ουτος απεθανεν ατεκνος·
And in the Modern Hebrew Bible - ויקח אתה השני וימת גם הוא לא בנים׃
The NIV's shortest verse - Job 3:2.
At our Facebook King James Bible forum one of the members actually found a "verse" in the corrupt NIV that is even shorter. It's found in the book of Job chapter 3:2. Here the Hebrew texts as well as the King James Bible and many others say: "And Job spake, and said,". However the NIV simply omits words found in the text and simply has: "He said:" - That's it!
Get the Bible was ALL of God’s inspired words in it - the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
The shortest verse in the entire Bible is still “Jesus wept.” John 11:35
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