The so called "Oldest and Best Manuscripts" (short version)
Brother Dave Flang and I have made a video teaching on this topic. If you like, you can see it here -
The usual mantra we hear today from those who promote the modern versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Holman, etc. is that they are based on "the oldest and best manuscripts" and that the King James Bible (along with all Reformation Bibles in all languages) "added to the words of God from late manuscripts."
For more information about these new Critical Text versions, see - "Undeniable Proof the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Holman etc. are the new Vatican Versions"
The facts are that these so called "oldest and best manuscripts” are among the most corrupt and contradictory of manuscripts out there. They not only disagree with the vast Majority of all Greek manuscripts, but also with each other. A far more reasonable explanation for their old age is due to the fact that they were recognized as being hopelessly corrupt and therefore were not used. That is why they didn't wear out.
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus
Dean John William Burgon, personally collated both the Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus manuscripts. In his book, "The Revision Revised", which he wrote in 1881, he gives his conclusions and lists numerous examples of the textual blunders found in these two manuscripts.
Mr. Burgon states on page 11; "Singular to relate Vaticanus and Aleph (Sinaiticus) have within the last 20 years established a tyrannical ascendance over the imagination of the Critics, which can only be fitly spoken of as a BLIND SUPERSTITION. It matters nothing that THEY ARE DISCOVERED ON CAREFUL SCRUTINY TO DIFFER ESSENTIALLY, NOT ONLY FROM NINETY-NINE OUT OF A HUNDRED OF THE WHOLE BODY OF EXTANT MSS. BESIDES, BUT EVEN FROM ONE ANOTHER. In the gospels alone B (Vaticanus) is found to omit at least 2877 words: to add 536, to substitute, 935; to transpose, 2098: to modify 1132 (in all 7578): - the corresponding figures for Aleph being 3455 omitted, 839 added, 1114 substituted, 2299 transposed, 1265 modified (in all 8972).
And be it remembered that the omissions, additions, substitutions, transpositions, and modifications, are by no means the same in both. IT IS IN FACT EASIER TO FIND TWO CONSECUTIVE VERSES IN WHICH THESE TWO MSS. DIFFER THE ONE FROM THE OTHER, THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE VERSES IN WHICH THEY ENTIRELY AGREE."
As for the ages of Codices Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (Aleph), Mr. Burgon states: "Lastly, - WE SUSPECT THAT THESE TWO MANUSCRIPTS ARE INDEBTED FOR THEIR PRESERVATION, SOLELY TO THEIR ASCERTAINED EVIL CHARACTER, which has occasioned that the one eventually found its way, four centuries ago, to a forgotten shelf in the Vatican library; while the other, after exercising the ingenuity of several generations of critical Correctors, eventually (viz. in A.D. 1844) got deposited in the waste-paper basket of the Convent at the foot of mount Sinai. HAD B (VATICANUS) AND ALEPH (SINAITICUS) BEEN COPIES OF AVERAGE PURITY, THEY MUST LONG SINCE HAVE SHARED THE INEVITABLE FATE OF BOOKS WHICH ARE FREELY USED AND HIGHLY PRIZED; NAMELY, THEY WOULD HAVE FALLEN IN DECADENCE AND DISAPPEARED FROM SIGHT." (Ref: P1)
IN SHORT, THESE TWO CODICES ARE OLD SIMPLY BECAUSE, FIRST, THEY WERE WRITTEN ON EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE AND DURABLE ANTELOPE SKINS, AND SECONDLY, THEY WERE SO FULL OF ERRORS, ALTERATIONS AND DELETIONS, THAT THEY WERE NEVER USED BY TRUE BELIEVERS AND SELDOM EVEN BY THEIR OWN CUSTODIANS. THUS THEY HAD LITTLE CHANCE OF WEARING AWAY."
Now, let’s look at some concrete examples -
Sinaiticus (Aleph) completely omits the following verses while they are found in Vaticanus. Matthew 24:35 - "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (omitted by Sinaiticus)
Luke 10:32 - "And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side." (omitted by Sinaiticus)
Luke 17:35 - "Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left." (omitted by Sinaiticus)
John 9:38 - "And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." (omitted in Sinaiticus original and P75, but found in Vaticanus and P66)
John 16:15 - "All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (omitted by Sinaiticus)
John 21:25 - "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen." (omitted by Sinaiticus)
1 Corinthians 2:15- "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (omitted by Sinaiticus)
and 1 Corinthians 13:1b -2 - "I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not - [charity, I am nothing]." (omitted by Sinaiticus)
Vaticanus contains the Gospels, Acts, the General Epistles, Paul’s Epistles, and Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 9:14. However the ending of Hebrews is missing from chapter 9:14 to Hebrews 13:15. It is also missing First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon and the book of Revelation.
Matthew 12:47 reads: "Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee." (omitted by Vaticanus)
This verse is found in the Majority of all texts, in Sinaiticus correction, C and D. However Vaticanus omits it.
The RV and ASV included the verse. Then the Revised Standard Version of 1952 omitted it, but the NRSV of 1989 but it back in again. But wait. Now the 2001 ESV again omits it! However the NASB, NIV, ISV, Wallace's NET version and the Holman all keep it in their texts. Some "science", huh?
Vaticanus also omits these two entire verses. Luke 22:43-44 "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
Sinaiticus original had them in the text. Then a scribe took them out, and then another on put them back in again! They are also missing from A and P75. The Nestle-Aland critical text puts Luke 22:43-44 in [[double brackets]] indicating that they do not believe this is inspired Scripture.
Yet these two verses are found in the Majority of all texts including D plus at least 18 other uncial copies, the Syriac Peshitta, Harclean, Palestinian, Curetonian, Armenian, Ethiopic and Coptic Boharic ancient versions.
Matthew 27:49 Here BOTH Sinaiticus and Vaticanus as well as codex C ADD the words "And another took a spear and pierced his side and there came out water and blood."
But no bible version includes these words here. Why? Because this textual blunder would have our Lord Jesus being put to death at this point, and then, as the other gospels tell us, He continues to speak several whole verses afterwards.
Dan Wallace footnotes: “Early and important mss (א B C L Γ pc) have another sentence at the end of this verse: “And another [soldier] took a spear and pierced him in the side, and water and blood flowed out.” This comment finds such a strong parallel in John 19:34 that it was undoubtedly lifted from the Fourth Gospel by early, well-meaning scribes and inserted into Matt 27:49. Consequently, even though the support for the shorter reading (A D W Θ Ë1,13 33 Ï lat sy sa bo) is not nearly as impressive, internal considerations on its behalf are compelling.”
And yet these are the so called “oldest and best manuscripts” upon which today’s Vatican Versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET and Holman Standard are based.
Luke 23:17 "FOR OF NECESSITY HE MUST RELEASE ONE UNTO THEM AT THE FEAST."
This entire verse is found in the Majority of all texts as well as Sinaiticus. However Vaticanus omits the verse and so do the NIV, RSV, ESV, RV, ASV, the modern Catholic Versions and the Jehovah Witness New World Translation.
The NASB pulls its usual trick, and from 1963 to 1972 the NASB omitted the verse, but then in 1977 and again in 1995 the NASB scholars decided to put the verse back in the text. The brand new ISV of 2004 and the Holman Christian Standard of 2003 also retain the verse and place it in their modern versions, but The Message and the NET version continue to omit it.
Aren't you glad we have the latest sure findings of modern scholarship to help us find out what God REALLY said?
Vaticanus also omits Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do".
It is retained in Sinaiticus and this time kept in the ESV, NASB and NIV, and placed in [brackets] by Dan Wallace and the Catholic St. Joseph NAB.
But James White says he does not believe it is inspired Scripture and he would not preach on it. Go figure.
Vaticanus also omits the entire verse of 1 Peter 5:3 but it is found in Sinaiticus and the Majority of all manuscripts and Bible translations - "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
SINAITICUS AND VATICANUS COMBINED
In the gospels alone, BOTH Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit the following whole verses. Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14; Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, 15:28; Luke 9:55-56, 17:36, 23:17, and John 5:4.
They are all found in the majority of the remaining Greek texts we have today and they were even in the older Catholic Versions like the Douay-Rheims 1582 and Douay 1950, but the modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American bible 1970 and the New Jerusalem 1985 omit them. The NASB of 1972 omitted these verses, but in 1977 put them back [in brackets]. The NIV, NET and ESV continue to omit these verses entirely, as does the Jehovah Witness New World Translation.
Matthew 6:13 - “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
What is commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer ends with these words: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Out of about 1000 remaining manuscripts these words are found in all but 10, or a ratio of 100 to 1. They are included in the Didache 150 AD, and the Diatessaron 170 AD (200 years before Sinaticus and Vaticanus). They are also found in the following ancient Bible versions: The Old Latin 200 AD, the Syriac Peshitta 250 AD, Harclean, Curetonian, Palestinian, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, and Ethiopic.
These inspired words of our Lord Jesus Christ are also found in Tyndale, Coverdale, Great Bible, Matthew's Bible, the Bishops' Bible, the Geneva Bible, NKJV, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac, the Italian Diodati 1991 and Riveduta 2006, the Spanish Reina Valera 2011, Luther's German Bible 1545 and the 2000 German Schlachter bible, the French Martin 1744, Ostervald 1998 and French Louis Segond 2007, the Portuguese Almeida Actualizada and even in the NIV Portuguese bible 1999 - "porque teu é o Reino, o poder e a glória para sempre. Amém." (but not in the English NIVs) as well as the Modern Greek Bible Διοτι σου ειναι η βασιλεια και η δυναμις και η δοξα εις τους αιωνας· αμην. and the Modern Hebrew Bible - ואל תביאנו לידי נסיון כי אם חלצנו מן הרע כי לך הממלכה והגבורה והתפארת לעולמי עולמים אמן׃
However both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit all these words and the NIV, RSV, ESV, NET, Catholic Versions and Jehovah Witness New World Translation omit them while the NASB, and Holman Standard put them in brackets.
See “The Lord’s Prayer” - Is your Bible a Vatican Version?
Luke 10:1, 17 - "How many men did the Lord Jesus send out to preach, 70 or 72?"
Luke 10:1 and 17 - KJB, RV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, Holman, ISV - "After these things the Lord appointed other SEVENTY also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." V.17 "And the SEVENTY returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
ESV, NIV, NET, Catholic versions - "After this the Lord appointed SEVENTY TWO others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two...V.17 The SEVENTY TWO returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name."
70 is the reading of Sinaiticus, the Majority, A, C, BUT 72 is the reading of Vaticanus. Which one is the historical truth inspired by God?
For many more examples of totally different numbers in the modern versions see "Wrong Numbers" -
Did Jesus Lie?
John 7:8-10 Here we read of Jesus telling his brethren to go up unto a feast and He says: "I go NOT up YET unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Gallilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret."
He did in fact go up to the feast.
Vaticanus, as well as P66, 75, and the majority of all texts read as does the KJB with: "I go not up YET unto this feast", and so do the Revised Version 1881, Geneva, Tyndale, Bishops', Coverdale, the NIV 1973, 1978, 1982 editions, Holman Standard 2003, the 2005 ISV (International Standard Version), Young, Weymouth, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902.
However Sinaiticus says: "I DO NOT GO to this feast", and so do the NASB, ASV, RSV, ESV and Wallace's NET version thus making our Lord a liar.
The fickle nature of this so called "science" is also seen in that Westcott and Hort originally read "NOT YET" and so did the previous Nestle-Aland critical texts up until a few years ago.
But the more recent ones have "scientifically" changed to now read "I do NOT go to this feast." And now the "new" NIV of 2011 has once again changed their underlying Greek texts and they now read "I AM NOT GOING up to this festival" and then He goes.
The Catholic bibles read this way too, making Jesus a liar. These are the Catholic Douay-Rheims, the St. Joseph New American bible 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985.
For much more on John 7:8-10 "Did Jesus Lie?" see -
1 Corinthians 13:3 - Instead of reading, "and though I give my body to BE BURNED, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing", both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus read: "and though I give my body THAT I MAY BOAST".
The NRSV actually adopted this reading, but the RSV, and the new ESV went back to "TO BE BURNED".
1 Corinthians 13:5- ". . .charity seeketh not HER OWN". Vaticanus alone reads "love does not seek that which IS NOT HERS" - the opposite meaning.
1 Corinthians 15:51- "We shall NOT all sleep, but we shall all be changed" in Sinaticus reads: "we shall sleep but we shall NOT ALL be changed" - the exact opposite.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55- "Death is swallowed up in VICTORY. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your VICTORY."
In Vaticanus this verse reads, "Death is swallowed up in CONTROVERSY. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your CONTROVERSY."
The book of the Revelation -
The Vaticanus manuscript is missing ALL of the book of Revelation as well as 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and from Hebrews 9:14 to the end of the book.
However Sinaiticus gives us some really strange readings in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 4:8 - "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
But Sinaiticus says: " HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God Almighty..." The word “holy” is repeated 8 times!
Revelation 7:4 and 14:3- Both verses mention the number of the 144,000 redeemed saints of the Lord.
However Sinaiticus has 140,000 in Revelation 7:4 and 141,000 in Revelation 14:3.
Revelation 10:1 - "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and A RAINBOW was upon his head..."
Sinaiticus says: "clothed with a cloud with HAIR on his head."
Revelation 21:4- "For THE FORMER THINGS are passed away".
Sinaiticus reads: "For THE SHEEP are passed away."
Revelation 21:5- "Behold, I make all things NEW"
while Sinaiticus says: "Behold, I make all things EMPTY."
These are just a few examples from these two "oldest and best" manuscripts which so many modern versions are based on.
It is my firm conviction that God has preserved His inspired, pure, and perfect words as He promised, and they are found today in English only in the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 8:8
For more examples of the confusing and contradictory readings found in these “oldest and best manuscripts” upon which today’s new Vatican Versions are based, see the longer article here -
The so called “Oldest and Best Manuscripts”