IS THE BIBLE FULL OF ARTIFACTS?
THIS IS FROM THE BOOK “COLD-CASE CHRISTIANITY” BY WARNER WALLACE
THE TEXTUAL ARTIFACTS OF THE BIBLE
Like crime scenes, historical scenes can be reconstructed with the evidence we have at our disposal. We have to be careful, however, to distinguish between evidence and artifacts.
The Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery
The famous story of the woman caught \n adultery (known as Pericope de Adulters)
is found today in John 7:53-8:11. It was not present in the earliest known manuscripts
of John's gospel, however, including Papyri 66 (ca. AD 200), Papyri 75 (early third century), Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century), and Codex Vaticanus (fourth century).
It first appears in its entirety in the fifth century in Codex Bezae, but there are several
other codices from that time in history that do not contain the story (e.g., Codices Alexandrinus, Ephraemi, Washingtonianus, and Borgianus). it appears in a different
location (after John 21:25) in many ancient copies of the text, including a set of ancient
gospels written in Greek known as "Family T that date from the twelfth to the fifteenth century. The story appears in the gospel of Luke (after Luke 24:53) in a group of Greek manuscripts known as "Family 13" that date from the eleventh to the fifteenth century.
THE testimony of an eyewitness can be properly viewed as evidence, but anything added to the account after the fact should be viewed with caution as a possible artifact (something that exists in the text when it shouldn't). The Gospels claim to be eyewitness accounts, but you may be surprised to find that there are a few added textual artifacts nestled in with the evidential statements. It appears that scribes, in copying the texts over the years, added lines to the narrative that were not there at the time of the original writing. Let me give you an example.
Most of us are familiar with the biblical story in the gospel of John in which Jesus was presented with a woman who had been accused of committing adultery (John 8:1-11). The Jewish men who brought the woman to Jesus wanted her to be stoned, but Jesus refused to condemn her and told the men, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." When the men leave, Jesus tells the woman, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more." This story is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. Too bad that it appears to be an artifact.
While the story may, in fact, be absolutely true, the earliest copies of Johns gospel recovered over the centuries fail to contain any part of it. The last verse of chapter 7 and the first eleven verses of chapter 8 are missing in the oldest manuscripts available to us. The story doesn't appear until it is discovered in later copies of John's gospel, centuries after the life of Jesus on earth. In fact, some ancient biblical manuscripts place it in a different location in John's gospel. Some ancient copies of the Bible even place it in the gospel of Luke. While there is much about the story that seems consistent with Jesus's character and teaching, most scholars do not believe it was part of John's original account. It is a biblical artifact, and it is identified as such in nearly every modern translation of the Bible (where it is typically noted in the margin or bracketed to separate it from the reliable account).
Should the existence of this textual artifact concern us? Do late additions to the biblical record disqualify the New Testament as a reliable manuscript? How can we call the Bible iner-rant or infallible if it contains a late addition such as this? This passage is not the only textual artifact in the Bible. There are a number of additional verses that are considered to be artifacts by scholars and biblical experts. Let's take a look at a few of them to determine if their existence should cause us any alarm:
"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" (KJV).
These two verses do not appear in early manuscripts of Luke's gospel, and for this reason they have been omitted from some modern Bible translations (like the RSV). While the KJV does not isolate them as late additions, other translations (like the NIV, NASB, and NKJV) identify them as such in footnotes or special brackets.
"For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then
first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had" (KJV).
Once again, this verse (along with the last few words of v. 3) does not appear in the best ancient manuscripts. Several modern translations have simply removed the verse (e.g., the NIV, RSV, and NRSV), while others have identified it in the footnotes (e.g., the NKJV and ESV).
1 JOHN 5:7
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (KJV).
The second half of this verse ("the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one") does not appear in any manuscript of the Bible until the sixteenth century (and it appears in only two manuscripts at this point in history). It has been omitted from modern translations like the NASB and NIV and identified with a footnote in the NKJV.
"Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still" (KJV).
The earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not contain this verse. Modern translations like the NIV, RSV, and NRSV have removed it, while the NASB, NKJV, and ESV have identified it with brackets or a footnote.
Skeptics have pointed to passages like these in an effort to demonstrate the unreliability of the biblical text as an eyewitness account. If these lines are fiction, how many more verses are also false? When I was an atheist, this was one of my prime complaints about the Bible, and I discovered that very few Christians were aware of the fact that these additions exist. I shook the faith of many 6f my Christian friends by simply demonstrating that these passages were not in the original biblical text.
SEPARATING THE ARTIFACTS FROM THE EVIDENCE
It wasn't until years later that I understood how to evaluate the existence of these late entries. I eventually learned that every crime scene presents its own set of unique questions and difficulties. Every scene contains important evidence that will guide us to the truth while also containing unrelated artifacts that will cause some uncertainty. I've never encountered a crime scene that was free of artifacts…….
THE AUTHOR GOES ON AND ON TO TEACH THE MODERN FUNDAMENTAL PROTESTANT IDEAS, THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT IS FULL OF “ARTIFACTS” - VERSES THAT SHOULD NOT BE THERE. THERE IS ONLY ONE VERSE WHERE HE IS CORRECT….1 JOHN 5:7.
TO COME UP WITH THIS TEACHING THEY USE TWO MSS [manuscripts] THE SINAITICUS AND VATICANUS, CLAIMED TO BE THE OLDEST MSS. OLD OR EARLIEST DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN “CORRECT.” THE SINAITICUS WAS FOUND IN THE TRASH BASKET IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MONASTERY AT THE FOOT OF MOUNT SINAI….. THE SCHOLARS THOUGHT IT WAS TRASH, SO THEY PUT IT IN THE TRASH BASKET TO BE DESTROYED [TOO BAD IT NEVER REACHED THE FIRE]. IT WAS A GUY BY THE NAME OF TISCHENDORF WHO VISITING THERE HAPPENED TO FIND IT IN THE TRASH BASKET.
THE VATICANUS MSS WAS FOUND ON A BACK SHELF IN THE VATICAN LIBRARY; EVEN THE VATICAN THOUGHT THAT’S WHERE IT BELONGED….. ON A BACK SHELF TO GATHER DUST AND SLOWLY DISINTEGRATE - TOO BAD A PROTESTANT FOUND IT.
NEARLY ALL MODERN TRANSLATIONS ARE BASED UPON THESE TWO MSS.
THEY ARE CORRUPT AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN DESTROYED, BUT GOD HAS ALLOWED THEM TO BE USED TO CONTINUE TO SO BE USED, AS TO SPIRITUALLY BLIND THE FUNDAMENTAL PROTESTANT CHURCHES.
ALL OF THIS IS FULLY EXPLAINED IN DEPTH, ON MY WEBSITE, UNDER “HOW WE GOT THE BIBLE.”
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF MSS TO PROVE THE “MAJORITY” TEXT IS THE CORRECT TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, WHICH IS 99 PERCENT THE SAME GREEK MSS TEXT USED BY THE KING JAMES TRANSLATORS.