Examples of Mormon Textual Changes with Changed Message in the Text
[Music] “Are New Testament textual variants like Mormonism?”
Welcome to another episode in our series on “Is Christianity the Mormonism of Judaism,” in which we are examining the claims of the Jewish rabbis, who teach that Christianity has distorted the text of the New Testament in much the same way that we Christians believe that Mormonism has distorted the texts and doctrines of Christianity. In this video, we are going to be talking about textual variants. What are textual variants? Textual variants are changes and differences that we see between the handwritten manuscript copies that we have of both the Old and the New Testament. Jewish rabbis and skeptics today claim that the New Testament has been altered over the centuries through the textual variants that we find in the manuscript copies of the New Testament.
Today we will be examining their claims in light of the evidence. To begin this video, I’m going to start with the opening statements that Dr. James White gave in a debate on the New Testament reliability. In this debate, Dr. James White, who is a New Testament scholar, was countering the claims of an Ex-Mormon who had converted to Christianity and then converted to Judaism, rejecting Christianity, when he found the textual variants in the New Testament and was convinced by the Jewish rabbis that those variants indicated that the New Testament had been corrupted in much the same way that the Mormon scriptures had been corrupted and changed over the years in their Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants texts of Scripture.
Today we will be examining the claims of the Jewish rabbis who teach that Christianity has distorted the text of the New Testament in much the same way that Mormonism distorts the text of their Scripture books, and we will be examining those claims in light of the research and the evidence that Dr. James White provides in this debate, and what New Testament scholars and Old Testament scholars say about these textual variants. Have the Scriptures been preserved, or have they been distorted through differences in the manuscript copies that we find? That is the question being discussed today, and we will also be contrasting those textual variants we find in the New Testament with the textual changes that Joseph Smith made to the text of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants scriptures of Mormonism. Are they the same, or is there a difference between those that indicate that Christianity has not distorted the New Testament although Mormonism has? Let’s look at the evidence.
Dr. James White: “Basically what my task this evening is to introduce you to basic textual criticism 101, so you can understand that, when it comes to the text of the New Testament, what we have is the most broadly attested document of antiquity. That means we have the most number of manuscripts in the original language – approximately five thousand eight hundred fragments of the New Testament in Koine Greek. We have the most number in translation, whether that’s the Old Latin, Syriac, Bohairic, Sahidic, Coptic whatever it else might be, and we also have the purist line of transmission with the earliest attestation. In fact, if you’ve seen my debate with Dr. Bart Ehrman – probably the best-known critic of the New Testament in the English-speaking world today – during the cross-examination in response to one of my questions, he said, “We have far earlier attestation for the New Testament than for any other work of antiquity,” and of course, he was exactly right in that statement.
“So if we are going to be skeptics about the text of the New Testament, we need to be skeptics about everything in antiquity. We can’t know what was written in any context if we cannot know what we have in the New Testament. Now, what we need to understand is, if I took a paragraph of text and I began with the front row and I had each person copy what they have and give their copy to the next row, and to the next row, and we may even be cheering each other on: “Let’s be super accurate! Let’s be super accurate!” By the time it got back to the back row, you would have differences in the handwritten copies of what was distributed, even in a room of this size.
“That is because all handwritten documents of antiquity demonstrate textual variation. Every single one, the Quran, anything else – the only way to avoid that is to chisel what you want to communicate in a rock. The problem is, rocks are not overly portable and hence, have a problem in communicating information over a large stretch of space or time. So we have textual variants. We’ve known that from the beginning, this is not something that is hidden from anyone who reads a basic introduction to the New Testament and, in fact, in almost all modern English translations and the King James had many more of these notes than when it was originally printed, you will find notations either in the column or the bottom of the page that we’ll know when there are important variations. Now it has been estimated that there are about 1,500 to 2,000 meaningful, viable variants in the New Testament.
“That means they do impact the meaning of the text and they might be original. About 1,500 to 2,000 – given that we have three million pages of handwritten text, 1,500 to 2,000 ain’t half bad. In fact, it’s really, really good! Now, the vast majority of variants – for example, at Romans 5:1, there is a variant in the text between the indicative and the subjunctive form of the of the term ἔχομεν (echomen) – all right, there is one letter difference. They were pronounced very, very similar to one another. We do not have to assume any kind of nefarious purposes on the part of any copyist to explain almost any textual variant in the New Testament at all. People like to come up with things like that. If you want to write books, if you want to come up with conspiracy theories, you can do that type of thing, but the reality is that I’m not aware of any variants in New Testament that could not have simply arisen from fully understood mechanisms that do not require us to believe that early church writers were trying to change things.
“Dr. Ehrman has been big in trying to promote the idea of theological variants, but classical, textual, critical scholars have recognized, and even Dr. Ehrman recognizes, that the vast majority of scribes attempted to do their work as accurately as possible and they did a tremendous job. I hold in my hand the Nestle Aland 28th edition of the Greek New Testament. This is available for purchase – well, not this particular one, but this is available for purchase for anyone. This is available online, it’s available on your phone, it’s available in Bible programs. We hide absolutely nothing. The bottom notes are all textual notes with massive amounts of information provided to the manuscripts, where they’re held, when we think they were written. Most of them do not have dates on them, so we put it into a century or something along those lines. We do not hide the information in regards to any of the textual variants that exist in the New Testament. What we do is seek to consistently apply a standard so that we can arrive at the earliest possible text, given the large amount of information we have. Now please recognize something: when it comes to the New Testament, we have fragments, for example the Gospel of John, that could be written as early as 125 AD. Now, if John was written in late 90s or even before 70, this is a less than 100-year difference between when the original was written and the first manuscript evidence we have. For any other work of antiquity, whether it’s Pliny or Suetonius or Tacitus or whoever else it might be, the average timeframe between when a book was written and when we have the first manuscript evidence is between five and nine hundred years – between half and a full millennium between when it was written. and when we have the first manuscripts for the New Testament – maybe somewhere between 50 and 100 years.
“That is why Dr. Ehrman said, “Obviously we have far earlier attestation for the New Testament than for any other work.” Now, let me, in light of our debate subject this evening, contrast this with the changes that were made in the text to the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is not a work of antiquity in English. Even if you’re a Mormon, you have to admit it didn’t exist in English in antiquity. Obviously I don’t believe it existed in antiquity, period. I believe it is a modern production. There’s much evidence of this, but the point is, the changes even recently when “white and delightsome” became “pure and delightsome,” that’s not a textual variant. That is a text that is controlled by a particular central organization, so the Book of Mormon has what is called a controlled transmission. There is one central organization that controls its text. The Quran is also a book that was initially controlled in its transmission. Ever since what’s called the “Othmanic Recension” about 25 years after the time of Muhammad, and so, in a controlled transmission, that’s very different than what we have in the New Testament. You have to trust whoever controls it. Whoever controls it controls the text. The New Testament was never controlled. The New Testament was immediately distributed widely across the known world; it was something called a free transmission of the text, especially because the Christian church was under persecution, so there could never have been a control of what was in it, what would be contained or anything along those lines. Besides that, it was written by multiple authors at multiple times to multiple audiences, so it took different paths of transmission over time,
“and later began to be collected into single collections such as P46, which is a collection of Paul’s writings, the earliest manuscripts we have of Paul; P75, P66, early gospel manuscripts. I’m doing my third doctorate on a P45 in the CBGM – that’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts – very unusual manuscript, but that began happening later on, as they began to be collected together; initially they were individual books. And so there is no control. So, for example, when you compare the 1833 book of commandments of 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, and find over 400 words added or deleted from a single section, that is controlled transmission; that is not free transmission that we have in the New Testament. There is no parallel between the two whatsoever. So we do have two blocks of text, twelve verses. The two largest textual variants in the New Testament are the longer ending of Mark, which was mentioned earlier and was called the Pericope de Adultera, and the story of the woman taken in adultery, John 7:53 to 8:11. Twelve verses each. Now, any modern translation is going to have brackets or notes in regards to both of these texts. There’s much earlier evidence for the longer ending of Mark than there is for the story of the woman taken in adultery. That first appears in Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis which is in the fifth century and I call it the Living Bible of the early church. It is more of a paraphrase than anything else. It is not reliable in almost anything. We are well aware of these texts and the question becomes: “Well, why don’t you tell people?”
“I do all the time. Anybody who reads an introductory text of the New Testament knows this. When I preach, if I preach through John, I let people know. I talk about textual variations, so it’s not like no one ever does that. I realize that’s not popular, but it’s not popular because we’re trying to hide something, it’s not popular because a lot of ministers who go through seminary aren’t all that clear themselves on all the details, and so, as my church history professor said long ago, “What is a mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew,” and so if the preacher isn’t all that clear on it, he’s not necessarily going to be bringing it up in his sermons. And so we must recognize that, for example, if you look at your Bible right now, if you can compare the King James with the ESV, you will see that the ESV in Gospel of John goes from John chapter 5 verse 3 to John chapter 5 verse 5; John chapter 5 verse 4 isn’t there. Now remember, when we talk about the Bible, we’re talking about as it was originally written, not as it was translated 1600 years later, and so we talk about adding things to the Bible or taking away things in the Bible, that’s actually a misnomer. It is really not understanding that what we want to know is what the Apostles originally wrote. That must be our greatest desire. So John 5:4 – it’s the man, the healing of the man by the pool, and it’s the explanation of the angel coming down and stirring the waters. Now, who is responsible for the insertion of that verse in later manuscripts? My suggestion to you is this is called a marginal gloss. It is an explanation of why a bunch of people are laying around a pool in Jerusalem in the first place. And it would be written in the margin of a manuscript, and so that manuscript is then copied by someone else. If you couldn’t go back and ask the guy who originally copied it, “hey why is this in the margin?” The tendency of scribes was to be conservative, which is a good thing. They tend to be conservative; they didn’t want to lose anything, and so since it was written in the margin, the copyist inserted it directly into his text at a later point in time. He’s not trying to be evil or deceptive or anything else, he’s trying to conserve what he has. Now why is this important? I submit to you that
“in the text and the notes of this volume, I have everything that the inspired Apostles ever wrote. The original readings still exist; they have not been lost. What we have to do is work through the fact that, for example, it’s very clear that in later manuscripts, there is an expansion of the names. I call it the expansion of piety, so an earlier manuscript will have the Lord and the later manuscript will have the Lord Jesus, or if the earlier manuscript has the Lord Jesus, the later manuscript would have the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s an expansion of the divine names out of respect and things like that, not deception or anything along those lines. If there’s going to be an expansion, it’s that kind of expansion, but the point is, all the original readings are there and what we are blessed to have is the ability in light of all of the manuscript evidence that we have, to be able to determine what those original readings are, and when we have particularly difficult variants, you let the reader know. You’re straight upfront and you let the reader know.
“Now, if you want to say, “Well, I don’t like having any variants at all,” that’s what Bart Ehrman says. Bart Ehrman says, “If God inspired the Scripture, He would have never allowed textual variants.” What do you mean? So if a poor scribe is copying a manuscript he wants to have for his family, and is tired and his eyesight isn’t all that good, he’s working by candlelight and he hasn’t had a lot to eat that year in the 900s because of famines and he’s about to make a mistake, what’s God gonna do, strike him dead or something before he makes the mistake? Of course not! If we only had one manuscript this would be an issue, but we don’t just have one manuscript of any text of Scripture. We have many manuscripts to compare with one another. And so when a scribe makes a mistake, he gets sleepy – in 1 John 3:1, there is a beautiful phrase: “and such we are. We are the children of God.” It was an error that was made due to something called harmonization — where the ending of one word κληθῶμεν (kalethōmen) is the same as the ending ἐσμεν (esmen). The guy’s eye went from κληθῶμεν (kalethōmen) to ἐσμεν (esmen) and he skipped over καί ἐσμεν (kai esmen), and so he accidentally deleted the statement “and we are the children of God.” Now, if we only had one manuscript of first John, that’s a problem. We have hundreds of them, and we can recognize the standard error that was made by a scribe. This is a great blessing. It is not any reason to abandon the message that comes from the early church that there was an empty tomb outside of Jerusalem and Jesus Christ rose from the dead. If you’re going to deny that, you’re going to need a whole lot more than the evidence from the New Testament which is the best-preserved work of antiquity, bar none.
Thank you very much.”
All right, let’s recap what Dr. White just said about the preservation of the New Testament manuscripts. First of all, we need to understand that every ancient manuscript demonstrates textual variation. What Dr. White means by that is that there’s not a single ancient manuscript that doesn’t have differences in the handwritten copies of the manuscripts, and why is that? Because they had to be hand-copied and people make mistakes.
Dr. White said there is absolutely no reason to assume nefarious motives for any of the textual variations that we find in the manuscripts. That means that, if we look at the manuscript differences, there is no change to the message of the text, there’s no nefarious motives – that is, no deceptive motives. You can’t detect any evidence of someone trying to tamper with the text of the New Testament.
Thirdly, Dr. White pointed out that the New Testament manuscripts contain manuscripts as far back as written within the first century of the original writings. There is no manuscript support that goes back that far with any other ancient book. In fact, the manuscript copies that we have, like for the Old Testament for example, are 500 years to a thousand years after they are written that we have manuscripts that we possess today that go back maybe to a thousand years, but that’s not the case with the New Testament. We have manuscript copies going back within the first century. We also have more manuscript copies for the New Testament than any other ancient book, including the Old Testament. With far more manuscript copies, we are able to compare those copies and be able to be more precise in knowing what the original writers wrote, because we have enough copies to be able to compare to determine what the original readings are. So Dr. White maintains that all of the readings still exist today; even though we don’t have the original writings, we can easily determine what the original readings were.
And then finally, Dr. White pointed out that the textual variation we see in the New Testament is not like Mormonism. Unlike Mormonism where we see Joseph Smith making changes to the text of the scriptures and altering the doctrines of the Mormon Church, through those changes, there is no sign of any doctrines being altered through the different variations that we find of the text of the New Testament Scriptures.
Also, the Book of Mormon is not a work of antiquity. It is not an ancient work; it was hand-written by Joseph Smith and then delivered to the printer who made printed copies. It didn’t have to be copied manually by hand over several centuries, so there’s no comparison between textual variants that we find in the texts of the New Testament and the Old Testament, and differences that we find in manuscripts of the Mormon scriptures. Let’s look at more details that distinguish the differences between textual variation in the New Testament manuscripts and the textual changes made to Mormon scripture, and specifically, let’s look at a chart.
I designed that compares and contrasts the differences between New Testament scripture and Mormon scripture.
Chart Comparing Differences between Mormon Scripture Transmission and New Testament Transmission Process:
I have this chart that discusses these differences between New Testament Scripture verses LDS Mormon scripture. The first thing Dr. White pointed out and I note the age of the manuscripts. New Testament manuscripts are an ancient document, about 1900 years old. They had to be preserved for 1900 years. There were no copy machines and therefore there were no ways to preserve but to hand-copy those texts, so the age is an ancient document in the New Testament and the transmission is hand-copied, but in Mormonism the age is a relatively recent text, the English version of the Book of Mormon. At least all Mormons would agree with this – it’s a relatively modern text, only approximately 200 to 240 years old, 1830 Book of Mormon. So it’s a modern text. It’s not an ancient text by any means, and the transmission process was printed. Sure, it’s true that Joseph Smith hand-wrote the Book of Mormon text and then he gave it to the printer, and there were some differences between what Joseph Smith hand-wrote and the first edition that was printed, but even those differences are relatively minor compared to [contrasted with or to] the major differences that have taken place in the Book of Mormon scripture over the past couple hundred years. And so you have a transmission process that is printed with the Book of Mormon that does not account for changes. You can take a manuscript that is printed, you can copy it over and over and until your toner on your copy machine runs out of ink, there are no changes to the documents or the copies that are made. This is simply not the case with the New Testament manuscripts that are hand-copied over and over, over 1,900 years. You’re going to see textual variances, you’re gonna see textual variation, you’re gonna see handwritten scribes’ scribal notes or scribal texts, in the margins of the manuscripts that end up in some of the copies with those textual notes or those scribal notes put into the actual manuscript of subsequent copies. But that’s a big difference between Mormonism, where you have a printed manuscript that will not change unless someone manually makes a change to the text type of the printed version, to the actual printed – well, they didn’t have copy machines, but they had actual printers in the days of Joseph Smith, where they would actually make a template – a plate – that they would use to print each of the pages of the Book of Mormon manuscripts. So for changes to creep into that, that was a very intentional process in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Commandments and Book of Abraham and Pearl of Great Price transmission process. In all of the Mormon scriptures, they were printed. They were not hand-copied over hundreds of years to preserve them, so there are no excuses for textual variation, except in the case of somebody wanting to make a change to the text, intentionally being deceptive, and that is indeed what we see with Mormon scripture, because you have these changes that show up between the 1830 edition of the revelations that became the Doctrine and Covenants revelations that were printed in 1835. So 1833 edition, a Book of Commandments versus the 1835 edition, printed edition of the same revelations, and you have major changes, as Dr. White pointed out, to the very concepts of priesthood authority that did not exist in the original version of the these revelations.
So when you see changes in printed manuscripts, it is clear that they’re intentional, they are not accidental scribal errors.
The next thing we need to note is just what I was pointing out. With New Testament scripture, the content is the same message, even with textual variation, even an account of the woman taken in adultery that’s shown up in some of the copies. Remember, we’re not talking about a change that showed up in all of the copies of the text, we’re talking about a change that’s showed up in some of the copies of the text of John. We’re talking about changes in the Mark 16 ending. There are different variations in various copies, but they did not get into all the copies, so it’s easy to tell which ones actually had the original text and which ones had additional text. It’s very easy to tell that.
But in Mormonism, that message is changed to the point where, between the 1833 Book of Commandments edition of the revelations, and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, these changes are made – major changes, and they’re handed off to the Mormon people as if nothing has changed. “Here are your revelations printed in Doctrine and Covenants.” There are no additional copies of Doctrine and Covenants that don’t contain the changes and with notes in the margin that say, “Hey, these were these words were added.” It’s not noted in the 1835 edition of Doctrine and Covenants.
These changes that Joseph Smith made to the text are not noted in any way, but when we look at the New Testament manuscripts, because we have the large volume of copies that were distributed – vastly distributed through many different countries and huge land masses – it’s impossible to be able to collect all those manuscripts and to be able to put the change that you make in one, in all of them. So obviously, God preserved the New Testament manuscripts through the fact that, when textual changes were made by accidental slips of the pen through the scribes, it’s easy to detect them. So there is no comparison between the changes in the New Testament and the changes in LDS scripture, the changes in the New Testament that affect no major doctrine or practice of Christianity, as I pointed out earlier. And just as Dr. White pointed out, the New Testament scripture is an uncontrolled text by nature of it being preserved through many different copies in many different areas, and that it was impossible for one church or one person to control all the manuscripts, so it’s an uncontrolled text, so that God’s Word is preserved and no Catholic Church or any other Church can come along and change the manuscripts. So when you see that uncontrolled manuscript being God’s method of preservation, there is absolutely no comparison in the preservation of the New Testament that was well-preserved, and the message was well preserved. Through the uncontrolled text of the New Testament versus the Mormon Church’s scriptures that have always been in the hands of either Joseph Smith or the top leadership of the Mormon Church, that’s a controlled manuscript, and therefore those changes that were made to the manuscript were intentional and used to change Church doctrines.
And then finally, when we compare the New Testament scripture to LDS scripture, we see that the concept, the message of the New Testament is delivered through the method of God breathing the inspired concepts of the text. God breathed the inspired concepts, not the exact words of the text. This is a very important distinction because in Mormonism, you have Joseph Smith receiving the translation of the Book of Mormon through a seer stone in the hat. In other words, Joseph Smith took the seer stone, put it in a hat, and God supposedly dictated the very words, the exact words for the Book of Mormon through illuminating the letters in the stone that was placed in the hat to block out the light so you could see these letters and these words illuminated for Joseph Smith. This is God supposedly dictating His
very words to Joseph Smith, so when you have changes and revisions to the Book of Mormon text made since the 1830 edition all the way up until today, there’s no excuse for that, because according to Mormonism, God dictated the very words of the text. This is a huge difference from New Testament Christianity, where the message is preserved in spite of textual variation, in spite of the words not being exactly what was dictated by God. God dictated, God breathed the inspired concepts of the New Testament, so we’re talking about God breathing inspiration. God breathing the message, not God dictating the words of the text.
Now what we’re going to look at is Dr. White answering the question of the differences between how the New Testament was transmitted to our days, so the difference is in the New Testament transmission process, and then he’s going to compare that with the transmission process of the Old Testament. And we’re going to look at the textual variants that we find in the Old Testament; we’re going to also look at a video that a rabbi gave about the textual variants in the Old Testament, and he’s going to make the point, just like Dr. White makes the point with the New Testament, this rabbi is going to make the point that textual variation in the Old Testament does not corrupt the text of the Old Testament that we possess today.
“Dr. White, how does the textual transmission of the Old Testament compare to the textual transmission of the New Testament?”
Dr. James White: “In 60 seconds – yeah right! No, that is a fascinating question because there is a complete difference between the two. One is through the covenant people themselves. It is a much more ancient text, obviously, than what you have with the New Testament and so it is a different process, because there was not the desire to spread a specific message outside the borders of Israel that would need to produce a text that could be used like the New Testament was. The New Testament was written during a period of persecution; the church continues to experience persecution all the way through 313 AD, and so you have to have a portable text – a text that can be recreated and re-replaced when people have lost theirs due to destructions and so on and so forth, and so it has a very, very, very different history to it. It is a fascinating subject, but far more than we can do in 60 seconds.”
I want to say something about the differences in the textual transmission process between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Just like Dr. White mentioned, the Old Testament is more of a controlled text; the covenant people, that is God’s people Israel, had control of the manuscripts pretty much the whole time it’s been transmitted, so they were very careful in how they rendered the text, they would check their work, even to the point of counting the number of words on a page, making sure that the center letter in their scroll matched what they expected to find, there were a lot of things that the Jewish scribes did when they were copying their manuscripts to ensure the integrity of the manuscripts. So you’re gonna find just from the differences in the transmission process, the Old Testament will have not as many textual variants in the text than we find in the New Testament. And then from the simple fact that, unlike the New Testament where the manuscripts were being distributed and copied on the fly because of persecution, they had to flee that, their their copies would get destroyed and they’d have to make new copies, and it wasn’t able to be as tightly controlled in the transmission because, actually, there was no control – the New Testament church had no control of all the manuscripts and when people made their copies it was just like, “Okay I need that copy, let me write this down as quick as I possibly can” – before they get persecuted, so they’re not able to check their work as well. Although they attempted to do a good job, there are definitely more textual variants just from the fact of the differences in the transmission process.
The other thing I want to point out with the New Testament is we have far more manuscript copies for the New Testament than we do for the Old Testament; and just the simple fact of all of these copies being handwritten, just the the simple fact of having nearly six thousand copies of the New Testament versus a few hundred copies of the Old Testament manuscripts, you’re going to see a whole lot more manuscript textual variants in the New Testament than you will the Old, just because we don’t have as many copies to compare in the Old Testament than we do for the New Testament. So I just want to point out some of these differences. They actually do impact some of the things we see with textual variants, but the reality still exists. The Old Testament, even with all the measures the Jews took to preserve the manuscript, does demonstrate textual variation in those manuscript copies. So we’re gonna look at some of those textual variants, and I’m gonna now feature a video that a Jewish rabbi gave regarding the preservation of the Old Testament and they’re going to talk about how we know that the Old Testament text has not been corrupted,
even though there are textual variants in the copies of the Old Testament.
Wil’liam Hall: “How do we know that what we have today in the Tanakh, the Hebrew, the actual words, word-for-word, how do we know that it’s still accurate? How do we know that the Hebrew, whether it’s a Masoretic text, whatever the case may be, how do we know that it hasn’t been tampered with? How do we know that it’s still the same as it was before the Jesus time frame?”
Rabbi Tovia Singer: “One of the things that, of course, anyone would find extremely striking is, if you take the Torah itself, I believe the Torah has 304,835 letters. I think, I believe. As it turns out, you go to a Torah scroll in London, you find an ancient Torah scroll from hundreds and hundreds of years ago, brought in from Iraq, or a scroll that survived the Holocaust, you go to a scroll in Australia, they’re the same. And I should mention that we would expect them to be the same for a theological reason. Because if the Torah is the Word of God, if it’s divinely inspired, meaning it’s an eternal message not just of that generation or version, the Torah clearly is written for all future generations to eternity. It would be very important that God, if God is the author of the Torah, that He would have made sure, not just to convey it properly, but what good would it be if the Torah, the original Torah, would be lost? Think about that for a moment.
“As it turned out, a hundred years ago, the oldest complete Jewish Bible, all of Tanakh that we had was the Leningrad codex which dates to the year 1008. We had another text which would have been in the Aleppo codex, which we don’t have complete now, but we have the vast majority of it. So the Aleppo codex which is very reliable – it’s not a scroll, it’s a codex (codex is only means a big book, that’s all it means), so the Aleppo codex – it’s not a scroll, it’s a book – now we have leaves of a book – is 930. All you have is a Jewish Bible that dates back a thousand years, so it’s true. Granted, the Aleppo codex matches exactly what you find in Tanakh. In our Tanakh, of course!
“But they’ll say, ‘What does that mean? Your claim is that the total – let’s just take the total, the major segment of the Jewish Scriptures. You’re saying that it’s roughly 3 thousand 3 hundred years old. How do we know that, prior to the Aleppo codex, people didn’t tamper with it, change it, and so on and so forth? Why don’t we have that? Where is it?’
“But that whole conversation ended in 1947. That is a result of the most important archaeological discovery in the Scripture in the 20th century. In 1947, a Bedouin young man, Mohammed Adeeb, in the Dead Sea area in the Qumran area, took a stone threw it up into a cave, heard crashing a vessel, and he went to inspect it and lo and behold! there was a massive discovery of Jewish text that had been hidden away, and that came to be subsequent discoveries in other caves and a very big discovery in Cave Four, but what we have in the Dead Sea scrolls and with every scholar, Jewish or Christian, if you ask – makes no difference, if you take any Jewish or Christian scholar and ask them, “What is the most important piece of information that we can walk away with from this discovery? What is very clear?”
“And that is we have the Jewish Scriptures, and the Jewish Scriptures matches our text today. That’s it. That means that we have the Torah in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Oh, a date for the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls date back from the first century BCE.
“The 3rd century BC, which means instead of us having only a text of Leningrad, which is 1008 or Aleppo, roughly both a 1000 years old, now we’ve gone back 2 thousand 3 hundred years ago, and now what we find is, lo and behold, we have the Isaiah Scroll, which is there for everyone to view. The Torah is perfectly preserved and for all intents and purposes, if you ask any scholar, whether they’re secular, whether they’re Christian, it doesn’t make any difference, they’ll tell you that they’ll use the term 99 percent or 99.9 percent is the same, and that’s great. So the prophets and the writings, that’s the prophets are the Nevi’im and the writings are the Ketuvim. I’m not going to get into why there would be three categories of text, are also as I said, 99 percent the same. Everyone’s going, “Okay great, the 99, but tell me about the 1 percent.”
“It’s a variance that we have very few, but if you’ve studied it, you’ll know about it. So there’s a variant in the example in Psalm 145, and King David, the author, wanted to be famous, and wanted to ensure that no one would forget it, and therefore what he did was, the first verse of each passage of Psalm 145 follows the order of the alphabet, so the first letter is אתְּהִלָּ֗ה Ashrae. This begins the chapters. Ashrae is an Aleph, then the next is Bet, and this is called an acrostic. So King David used an acrostic and there’s reasons why they would do it. It’s not that he was trying to show off his writing skills. There is a reason for it. First of all, it makes it easy to remember. If you read the the next גָּדוֹל (gadowl) so that’s a Gimel the third letter, then the fourth one Dalet, each generation דּ֣וֹר לְ֖דוֹר (dowr la dowr). Very easy to follow.
“Now as it turns out, I think it’s a line, let’s say line 12, line 13, one is missing. Meaning that when we get to מַלְכֽוּתְךָ֗ מַלְכ֥וּת כָּל־עֹֽלָמִ֑ים וּ֜מֶֽמְשַׁלְתְּךָ֗ בְּכָל־דּ֥וֹר וָדֹֽר: (malkuwth) that means, his kingship, his kingdom, is the kingdom of all eternity. So that begins with a mem so we would expect that the next line would begin with a nun ’cause that’s the following letter. As it turns out, King David did not put in a nun. And what he did was he skipped the nun and it goes to the next letter, which is samekh, so therefore, what happens is the text skips the nun and then it discussed extensively in Talmudic literature of why that nun is skipped. Okay now as it turns out, if you go to the Dead Sea Scrolls, it’s in there. If you go to the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a passage for the nun, which we don’t have in any of our text, whether you look at a text from the Yemenite Jews or a text from Hasidic Jews, we don’t have it, but we do have a text and Dead Sea Scrolls where that text was inserted. And everyone was like, ‘really? Someone did that?’ We know it’s not there well the answer is yes. But the questions some of you might ask about, “How do you know?” Maybe our text that we have everywhere is a mistake. We somehow lost the line and originally it was there. That means I’m making quite a claim. It’s really not a very difficult claim to make, because every Bible in the world every – by the way, all the Christian Bibles are based on ours, so it’s theirs as well – there’s no line for the nun, it’s not there. So it’d be very, almost impossible achievement for someone to add in a text and then everyone could every Jew in the world to agree upon it. That would be extremely unlikely, but I want to ignore that for a moment. How do we know that the original text did not have a nun, and what we encounter in the Dead Sea was somebody who clearly looked at this chapter, and went. ‘We have a nun, it’s missing, this line isn’t there. I’m going to make up a verse.’ Someone did that, but the question is, ‘How do you know? Maybe what you find in the Dead Sea Scrolls, this
“extra line, maybe that’s the original, and what we have in our Hebrew Bibles is all defective, is missing.’ How do you know what I’m saying is correct? So the answer to that question is that, I’ll tell you what the passage that you’ll find in Qumran – this is just an example. So the text in Quran says, “For nun use – this is the text. Naman Hashem “בְּכָל־דְּרָכָ֑יו וְ֜חָסִ֗יד בְּכָל־מַֽעֲשָֽׂיו: (Hebrew), which means “Naman” so that can only mean the word trustworthy, trustworthy is God (Hebrew) and what He does kindly in all of his works. That’s the extra text that you’ll find in Psalm 145 in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Okay, so there’s two possibilities. As I said, I want to make this clear because someone will get confused. Either it was originally not there and King David deliberately did not put the nun in there (for the reason is not germane to this show) but it fell out of the text and King David didn’t want to put that in there, or it really had it and the Dead Sea scroll on this line is correct. And we – somehow, it fell out, it got jettisoned by all of our Bibles everywhere in the world. Understand this point? Good.
So the answer is very obvious – every religious Jew or any person studying who reads the Hebrew, is laughing right now. Why? Because “Naman Hashem” (Hebrew) what that really is, is that Tsade line copied and pasted. If you look at two lines later, it says “Sadiq Hashem” בְּכָל־דְּרָכָ֑יו וְ֜חָסִ֗יד בְּכָל־מַֽעֲשָֽׂיו (Hebrew) which means ‘God is just in everything that He does (Hebrew) means, ‘that He does which is kindly in everything He does.’ So what the author did was he went a few lines later. Whoever did this, he copied the whole line except he can’t copy that first word, because that first word has to begin with a nun, so the word tsadhe is deleted, jettisoned, and then the word that is inserted, namun, and then it was pasted in between that text. We know that because we have the exact same line only a few lines later, except the first word is changed so that it follows the acrostic. Now an anomaly in acrostic is very common in the Jewish Bible and in the Book of Psalms, which means it is a method, a technique, it is a tool of the author to get our attention. If he goes along and one letter is missing, right away, there’s a theological message in the letter that’s missing. And this is done in another place, most people are not familiar with it, but the key point is, we know that this particular text is very strange. Well, people don’t spend time studying it. This text which has the nun in it, which begins with namun, (He is trustworthy) is an interpolation by the scribe or other scribes. What happened? Somebody or some people looked at it, saying, “It’s missing a line, because it’s not following the Hebrew alphabet of 22 letters. It’s missing one, we’ll put in a line.” But whoever did this wasn’t very creative at all, because what he did was he found one word namun, put that in there, so now you have the nun taken care of and then the rest of the line is copied from three lines later and then put in. So we know that the text we have is correct, and in this again this is like, you would never come across this but we know that
text is a corrupted text. So that would be an example.”
All right. Well, here we see an excellent example of a textual variant in the Old Testament that was added because the scribe who was copying it felt like it didn’t quite fit the acrostic that he was seeing in the actual manuscript of Psalm 145, so he added the word nun, a word to go with nun and then copied another text from that chapter there in Psalms, and added that text to the verse that he made up. But even with that kind of textual variant, as the rabbi explains, it doesn’t change the message of the text of the Old Testament, and these kinds of textual variants only indicate a scribal error or a scribal addition that ultimately changes nothing, so even whether you have that verse in or you don’t have that verse, it doesn’t change anything – that the manuscript is still valid, it’s still reliable, it’s still preserved, and the message still comes through. And that’s the point that the rabbi made with showing this textual variant in the Old Testament, and that’s what we see, just like we see with the New Testament, the textual variants do not change the message of the text in the New Testament, just like they don’t change the message of the text of the Old Testament. Now, what I want to show you now is a video from this very same rabbi discussing a textual variant that we see in the New Testament and he makes a claim that this textual variant shows corruption in the text. But I want you to consider the similarities between how this textual variant came to be here in the New Testament, and the textual variant the rabbi just discussed in
this other video from the Old Testament.
Rabbi Tovia Singer: “But as it turns out, the Christians changed, altered, interpolated their own Bible far more than they change the Jewish Bible. Christian scribes who were looking at the Eucharist in Luke 22 and there’s nothing there about Jesus dying, that this, “Take them, the bread and the wine and take it, that I gave this for you,” like we find in the other books. And Luke doesn’t include it, because it did not conform to Luke’s view, to Luke’s Christology. What did scribes do? They interpolated it, which means they put it in there and therefore, half of Luke 22:19 and all Luke [22:]20 was added in later. We know this. If you take out a Christian Bible, and they’re not fans of Judaism, they will, many of them, in the footnotes will say that the Greek manuscripts, the best Greek manuscripts do not include this so the Christians did to the New Testament, committed far more violence against the Christian Bible in terms of its textual integrity, to ensure that it conformed to the orthodoxy of the time
far more than they tampered with the Jewish Scriptures.”
Let’s look at the textual variant this rabbi just brought up as what he believes is an example of corruption in the text of the New Testament Scriptures. It’s Luke chapter 22, beginning at verse 19 and ending at verse 20. Let’s read it. In the New American Standard Bible, it says, “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them.” Now, this is where the textual variant starts. This is where most ancient manuscripts of this passage do not contain the following words, “Saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.'”
Okay, so the text in question is the latter half of verse 19 and all of verse 20, and most of the ancient manuscripts of Luke chapter 20 do not contain these texts. However, when we read this same account in the other Gospel accounts, let’s read. We read here in Matthew 26:26 – “Now as they were eating Jesus took bread and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat, this is My body.'” That’s Matthew 26:26. We also read Mark 14:22: “And as they were eating, took bread and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, this is My body.'”
Okay, and then we get over here to 1 Corinthians 11:24 – “And He took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'” So we see both of the phrases, “This is My body given for you” or “Broken for you” and “Do this in remembrance of Me” in the 1 Corinthians 11:24 passage. So then you have to ask the question, “Why is this addition to the text somehow corrupting the text of the New Testament? I mean, it’s just a copying of the text from prior accounts of this same event.”
It’s a copying of the text from Mark or Matthew and possibly 1 Corinthians when Paul wrote about it, so you have to say, “Okay, if the scribe who was adding this text to Luke chapter 22, how is he trying to corrupt it by copying maybe a marginal note and saying, ‘Well, this is like 1 Corinthians,’ so maybe he put it in the margin of his copy of the the manuscript and then someone
later on came along and said, ‘Well, I don’t know if this is original or not; it’s in the other text of the gospel,’ so maybe they came along and reading his marginal note added it to the text.”
I mean, it’s very easy to explain how this textual variant could have occurred in the manuscript. And, given the fact that the scribe changed nothing of the message of the text, well then, how can you claim this is a distortion of the text or a corruption of the text? How was this any different from the example this very same rabbi gave of Psalm 145 where that extra verse is added for the nun which was missing in all the other manuscript copies we have of that text? Here from the Masoretic age, you go to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and this extra line is in there and scribes looking at that today think, well maybe it was copied from a few lines down from the text. So how is this copying of the text in 1 Corinthians into the text of Luke 22 any different from the textual variant we see here in the Old Testament in Psalms? I would submit to you, it’s no different. I mean, this kind of change to the text that was made in a different, later manuscript copy of Luke 22 doesn’t change the message. It’s easily explained as maybe a marginal reading that somebody wrote from the text in Corinthians, wrote it down in Luke. So I would submit to you that this is not an example of corruption to the text of the New Testament, rather just an easily admissible scribal error that can occur just from people writing notes in their margins of their Bible, just like we do today.
We write notes and explain certain things in the passages or cross-reference different passages. We do that all the time in the text of our Bible, so why is it wrong for some Christian copyists who may be copying a manuscript that has a scribal note, that the person before wrote down in the margin of their Bible. That’s not an example of corruption, any more than the Essene scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls seeing a missing nun – there’s no nun, there’s no verse for that – and copy a text just a few verses down into that place in the manuscript of Psalm 145 to show the acrostic, to make it complete. There’s no sign of collusion or distortion in the text of the New Testament. If you’re gonna argue that, then you’re gonna have to argue the Old Testament is corrupted, and the rabbi won’t go there. I mean, obviously it’s not corrupted, that the message hasn’t been changed, neither for the Psalm 145 passage where that verse is added, nor for this latter half of verse 19 and the verse 20 being added to the passage here in Luke chapter 22. Now let’s look at some more examples of what the rabbi thinks are corruptions to the text of the New Testament and then evaluate whether those are really corruptions or
whether those textual variants are easily explainable through the transmission process of the New Testament as well.
Rabbi Tovia Singer: “The book of Mark has no resurrection accounts, all you have is the women encountering, Mary, Salome, encountering what appears to be an angel and that’s it. Nobody is meeting Jesus in the end of the book of Mark. The later scribes were really unsatisfied. They put in 12 verses, 12 passages at the end of the book of Mark, which has encounters with Jesus. Why? Because it wasn’t there. The woman caught in adultery from John 7 verse 53 through John 8:11, 12 passages.
12 verses! I mean the resurrection account. This has enormous theological implications.”
Should the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8 be considered fake, simply because there’s a good indication that it may not have been included in John’s initial version of the Gospel of John? I would say no, for two reasons. The first reason is we have a statement at the very end of John’s Gospel, at John 21:25, he states, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, 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.” When you have that statement from John himself, saying that there are so many things that Jesus did and said that it would be nearly impossible for the world to contain the books that would be written, then there’s a lot more stories of what Jesus did than what John included in his gospel and who’s to say that this story of the woman taken in adultery might not have been one of those stories? How do you know? What makes you think that the story is fake, simply because it may not have been included in the first version in John’s original gospel that he wrote?
Another thing I’d like to point out as to another reason why the story may not be fake, it may actually be a true story, is the fact that God is able to preserve His stories for many more than five centuries. Here you have the first century account of the Gospel of John, this lady gets to meet Jesus and discovers that her encounter with Christ saved her life. I mean, you’ve got to think of the impact of those words that Jesus spoke to her: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Can you imagine how that impacted her life? Wouldn’t she share that with her children and her grandchildren, and they in turn would share that with their children from generation to generation, until we get to the fifth century? We know that God is able to preserve His stories, the ones that He wants written in His Scriptures.
Just look at the Genesis accounts from Adam and Eve; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the stories of Noah, the stories of Joseph, those span nearly 1500 years. Actually 2 thousand 5 hundred years, if you think about it from Adam and Eve in about the fourth century BC [fourth millennium BC] until we get down to Moses at about 1500 BC. Moses writes these stories down nearly 2 thousand 5 hundred years after they took place. In the space of 2 thousand 5 hundred years, God was able to preserve those stories in the generations of the children who experienced those stories. So how do you know that the story of the woman taken in adultery wasn’t like one of those stories that carried on in her family line from generation to generation until we get to the fifth century, where it shows up in the manuscripts? The other thing I’d like to point out about this story in John 8 is that the words of Jesus are, likewise, spoken in other, similar accounts where Jesus encounters people who are sick, or people who are struggling with sin. Take, for example, the woman at the well in John 4. He spoke very graciously to her and shared the truth about Him being the Messiah, and if we also look at the paralytic when he was healed of his illness what did Jesus say to him? He told him that
his sins are forgiven! That concept of His forgiving of sins and not condemning this paralytic is the same concept that we see here with a woman taken in adultery. His words are not lost, even if we take that story of John 8 out of the Scriptures. His very words of “Go and sin no more” are spoken, that were spoken to that woman are not only spoken there, but in the story of another account the healing at Bethsaida in John chapter 5. And the fact that He gives eternal life to those who believe in Him, similar words that we read in the longer ending of Mark 16, are also spoken in John chapter 5, where he says, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” You have eternal life by believing in the One whom He has sent, whom God has sent, Jesus Christ. There’s so many accounts where that idea of believing in Jesus to be saved is spoken of throughout the New Testament accounts of Christ. So, even the words of Jesus in Mark 16, just like the words of Jesus in John chapter 8, are not lost if you remove the ending of Mark 16, the resurrection account of Christ or the words here of Jesus with the woman taken in adultery.
So going back to the original question, should we consider this story fake, I would say absolutely not, because this story is in agreement with the stories similar to it and other accounts of Jesus. There is no discrepancy, and obviously nobody is trying to tamper with the message of Scripture by putting that story in, in the fifth century, so when we see those similar words of Jesus being spoken in other Gospel accounts, you cannot claim that the words of Jesus were added or lost by either adding that story in John chapter 8, or removing it in critical editions of the New Testament.
And then we have to remember the fact that God has preserved His word, He has preserved it and Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away and My words will not pass away.” So when we have textual critical issues like John chapter 8 and Mark 16 where the words of Jesus appear, if we can see those words, those ideas, those concepts conveyed in other gospel accounts, we know that what Jesus spoke in Matthew 24 about His words enduring and not passing away are true, no matter which edition of the New Testament you have.
Now I’d like to turn this over to another clip from Dr. James White. I want you guys to see how he responded specifically to the question of how can the Christian Bible be trusted when these expansions to John 8 or the original version of Mark 16 didn’t include the resurrection account, and merely ended with the empty tomb.
I’d like you to listen in as Dr. James White addresses this question, how can the Christian Bible be trusted.
Dr. James White: “How can the Christian Bible be trusted when the kind-hearted words of Jesus Himself in the totally imaginary story of an adulterous woman, John 8:1-11, were deceitfully added by an unknown person. Is this really the Word of God? Again, we’re going to see this repeatedly, ‘the deceitfully added line.’ And let’s just get rid of it right now; you have no way of knowing what anyone’s motivation was for any textual variant in the New Testament. You can guess, you can speculate, but you don’t know it. The Pericope de Adultera, John 7:53 through 8:11, that you just made reference to does not appear in any known Greek manuscript that we have found to this date until the fifth century. And the first example we have of it in a manuscript is Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis, Codex D, which is a notoriously unreliable manuscript which is also a Diaglott by the way, it’s a Greek Latin Diaglott.
“Now we’ve discussed this before, I’m not gonna go into – like I said, I’m trying to be brief here – but the assumption of this list is that the people that you’re talking to are ignorant of the history of the Bible. And that’s most everybody! Now, we’ve been dealing with these issues for decades and debating these issues for decades, and no one who has any serious training in the history of the New Testament is unaware of these realities, but they’re thrown out there, as if there’s some kind of terrible, horrible thing that no one had ever thought of before, ever discussed before. These things have been discussed literally for millennium. And so you throw in words like deceitfully and then is this really the Word of God? The Pericope de Adultera has significantly less manuscript evidence behind it than the longer ending of Mark does, and so I would not preach it in the context of the church as the authoritative Word of God. There are those people who would think otherwise; unfortunately, their argumentation will require the acceptance of some kind of ecclesiastical theory. That has one major problem: it assumes that
“the ecclesia, the church, has actually addressed these issues when the ecclesia has not. There has been no Protestant Synod Council that has pretended to determine the textual history of the Pericope de Adultera or the Johannine Comma, either one, so as I said, there are some others but, can the Christian Bible be trusted? Yes, because we happen to know that that’s not original. We have the manuscript evidence. If all we had was what you might get from Joseph Smith or something like that, then there would be no way of knowing, because he was always changing it. But we have manuscripts that pre-date the earliest manuscripts that contain the Pericope de Adultera, and so yes, we can trust those Scriptures, and that’s why we engage in textual criticism.
“How can the Christian Bible be trusted when the very first and most important documentation of the resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of Christianity, was deceitfully added by an unknown person? Is this really about Mark 16:9 to 20, longer ending of Mark? Again, this assumes that we know the order of the writings of the books of the New Testament which we do not. There are many people who believe that Paul’s writings, including the 1st Corinthians chapter 15 text that was already addressed, would be earlier than Mark. Now, I don’t know – nobody knows. I would put Mark around the same time as 1 Thessalonians and Galatians. Paul is plainly teaching the same message, at that point, that he then mentions to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians chapter 15. So it could be contemporaneous, but anyway, longer ending in Mark – much earlier documentation than the Pericope de Adultera, story of the woman taken in adultery, but still, it’s not just longer ending of Mark. You’ve got the medium-ending of Mark, you’ve got the amalgamated ending in Mark, the shorter ending in Mark, and the whole point is, since you’ve got a bunch of different endings of Mark, that’s the best reason to be skeptical about any of them being the proper ending of Mark. But the point is that Matthew, Luke, John, all of Paul, Hebrews, there’s no question about the resurrection. If the longer ending is not included, there’s no question about the resurrection. Jesus prophesied it in Mark. There’s no question about the resurrection, nothing whatsoever.”
Alright, so Dr. White gave us some good insight into the textual basis behind these variants in John 8 and Mark 16; now I’m going to feature another section from the debate where Dr. White discussed the reliability of the New Testament, and actually discussed Mark 16 and the reason why he thinks the original version of Mark 16 did not contain a resurrection account of Jesus, but merely ended with the empty tomb. And in fact, if you think about it for a minute, even just the fact that the tomb is empty, even if you don’t have the resurrection account, you still have an empty tomb, which seems to imply that Jesus rose from the dead. So even with Mark 16 ending with just the account of the empty tomb, that doesn’t indicate any kind of corruption to the text, adding additional accounts of the resurrection. But let’s listen in as Dr. White talks about his view of Mark 16 and why he thinks Mark 16 may have
ended with the empty tomb.
Dr. James White: “It was said in the opening Scriptures being added to the Bible again. What we want to know is what the Apostles originally wrote. A scribe who includes a marginal note is not trying to add to Scripture, and we can recognize when it happens, because of the manuscript tradition and we provide the notes. This has been known since the early church. In talking about the longer ending of Mark, we had the phrase the clowns that changed it. The reality is that the ending of the Gospel of Mark in verse 8, which is where, I do believe, that it ended, there are many people who would disagree with this, but was – Mark was probably the first one written. We don’t know the order in which the Gospels were written, but in all probability, it ended where it did. There were prophecies of the resurrection, the tomb has already been discovered, but it would probably ended where it was, so that the eyewitnesses who had that Gospel of Mark could give their own testimony of their own encountering of Jesus. Matthew and Luke and John provide much further detail, but Mark is the shortest. He has a specific purpose he’s trying to get to. The point again is, I want to know what Mark wrote and not the fact that there are multiple endings in the manuscripts to the Gospel of Mark, because people were concerned – it ends too suddenly. So let’s have some of this over here, some of that over there, and they put that together. They were not trying to change something. There wasn’t some group that decided, ‘You know what? Mark just didn’t do a good job. Here, let’s add to it.’
“That is not what was going on. There is no a bunch of robed monks in a room someplace going, ‘Well, let’s make some changes they’re nefarian‘ and so on and so forth. It is said that the core message of New Testament has been altered. How? We have not been given a single example of this. I challenged Dr. Ehrman, the best English-speaking critic of the New Testament, ‘Show me where the message of the New Testament was altered.’ He couldn’t. There is not a single text he can point me to that we do not have clarity on somewhere else in the New Testament on any doctrinal issue at all. It has not been altered, and I would challenge him, ‘You show us how the message of the New Testament has been altered by any textual variant that you are referring to this evening.’
“He said, ‘It’s ludicrous of us to refer to the originals.’ If you have read the Chicago statement on inerrancy, it specifically refers to exactly what was quoted by the – evidently in the statement of faith of the church, to which he keeps making reference. In regards to the fact that you can believe and should believe and should recognize the inspiration of the original, even in light of the transmission process down through history, they are not contradictory things, they just require you to do some study to grow in your understanding and knowledge of your own faith.”
Up to this point, all of the textual variants we’ve examined so far, not a single one of them has changed a doctrine of the church and can be easily explained through, maybe, scribal notes that were put in the margin of their manuscripts, or copying of the text from other passages of Scripture being put into the text. So not a single example has been given of a textual variant that has changed a doctrine of the Christian Church, yet the rabbi we are featuring actually claims that Christianity was changing over the centuries, that the Christianity of today does not resemble the Christianity of the early church. And he goes so far as to claim that these textual variants that are being added to the text of the New Testament. He claims that those were actual changes in doctrines, but yet, we haven’t seen a single example of any one of these textual variants changing a doctrine of the church. Let’s listen in as the rabbi expounds on his claim that he believes Christianity has actually changed through textual variants in the Scriptures.
Rabbi Tovia Singer: “I think people believe that, when you look around about us today, and you encounter so many denominations of the church that disagree on fundamental things, that they think that well, maybe at one time in the old days Christians were fairly unanimous on their beliefs, and then later as a result of schisms that later followed, that separately, the division of these in the West ensures the Great Schism of the 11th century, the Reformation, now we’re stuck with the most variegated religion of all the world. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, if you turn back the clock 18 hundred years, you would encounter expressions of Christianity. I don’t think that usually any person would even recognize, I believe, that people would call themselves Christians would ever identify with.”
This is one of the most outlandish claims of this Jewish rabbi. He can’t point to a single textual variant in the New Testament that actually changed a doctrine of the Christian Church. And yet he claims that Christianity today does not resemble the Christianity of the first century. He claims that if we were to meet Christians in the first century, our beliefs would be so different, they would be hardly recognizable as a Christian. I find that claim completely false, completely wrong. How could he say this? He can’t point to a single textual variant that changed a doctrine of the Christian Church.
Now, let’s contrast this with what occurs in Mormonism. Nearly every generation of Mormonism has seen major changes to the doctrines of the Mormon Church. Nearly every generation within Mormonism has seen major changes to the doctrines, to the scriptures, and to the teachings and the policies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In Mormonism, not only do we have changes even from the early days of the Mormon Church in 1830 when Joseph Smith baptized two thousand people into the Mormon Church, before he even had a revelation about Peter, James and John bestowing upon him the Melchizedek Priesthood. He baptized people without priesthood Authority. Those revelations didn’t come in until we get to the 1835 edition of Doctrine and Covenants, of their scripture, Doctrine and Covenants. Major, major changes that were made between the 1830 original revelations of those scriptures on the priesthood authority, and the 1835 edition. And those affected the doctrines and policies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
You do not see those kinds of changes even in textual, critical editions of the New Testament. None of the changes that are made in removing, let’s say, John chapter 8 or Mark 16, the longer ending of Mark 16. If you remove those, it doesn’t change any policy or doctrine of Christianity. And adding those passages to the Christian Scriptures don’t change anything either, whether you have the story of the woman taken in adultery or not doesn’t change the policies, I’ve said this before. But that’s the point that leader’s trying to make, that, just like Mormonism changes their scriptures, so Christianity changed its Scriptures. But as we see, this argument does not work. Let’s draw this back even further. So in Mormonism, you have scriptural changes right off, at the very beginning. New converts come into the church without any idea of priesthood authority. And then you get the revelation later, and then all of a sudden, that revelation becomes a condition for being able to act in the name of God.
Let’s go on another generation later – you have Mormons practicing polygamy all the way up until 1890. Why? Because they’re told that, unless they practice polygamy, unless they take on these additional wives, they will not be able to have the highest level of heaven. So it becomes a condition for salvation. Then in 1890, they get a revelation that supposedly does away with polygamy, and basically
so that Utah State could be added to the Union, the United States Union. They came up with this public revelation that they added to their scriptures – the 1890 manifesto. But we find out in 1904, it takes the second manifesto in 1904 to actually stop the practice. So you have a period of time where the Mormons are still practicing polygamy, believing that they need to do this to please God, but yet they have to do it secretly. Why? Because they want to be accepted into the Union of the United States. So it’s practiced secretly and Mormons go into hiding.
You don’t think those policies of the Mormon Church affected the daily lives of the Mormons that lived these policies? You bet they affected their lives. And children grew up hiding from the authorities, just in case they would find out that they were the children of a polygamous wife. So you had that generation of Mormons. Major, major changes to the policies of the church then take place with the second manifesto, where they actually start practicing not ordaining the marriages of second, third, fourth wives. So then we go on down, another generation of Mormons passes.
We have this situation where in the Mormon scriptures, blacks are considered cursed from God. The policy of the church taught that blacks could not obtain the priesthood. So they would deny blacks the privileges of going to the temple and being able to practice the kinds of things they would have been able to do if they held the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. All because of a scriptural policy, a scriptural teaching in their scriptures that blacks are cursed. Now, fast forward another generation of Mormons, and you get to the 1978 revelation which does away with a ban on the priesthood authority for the blacks. And all of a sudden, the blacks are allowed that priesthood authority, they’re no longer cursed from God, and now they can gain the privileges that are necessary to gain the highest level of heaven. Do you see where I’m going with this?
This was the point, the original point, that he used to make with this argument about his grandfather; if he lived Mormonism he would have been a polygamist, and then – and his father, if he lived Mormonism he would have thought blacks were cursed. And then we come on down to his leader’s generation and he saw major changes within the Mormon Church on the oaths and the ceremonies within the temple which, again, according to Mormonism, are necessary for salvation.
So you see how this argument worked very well with Mormonism, because you have
major changes in every generation of Mormons. From the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1830 until now. The church continues to undergo major, major changes in the revelation. So the idea of salvation was indeed – if grandfather was in Mormonism, it would not have been clear to him. He’s absolutely correct: when you apply that argument to Mormonism, “It wasn’t clear to my grandfather, it wasn’t clear to my father, and it wasn’t clear to me.” He’s absolutely right in Mormonism. Because of the doctrinal changes that their own scriptures have made to their policies over the years. These concepts, the concepts of what is required for salvation, are not clear. Were not clear to prior generations of Mormons, and even the Mormon generation growing up today has seen major changes, even from the last prophet who banned the children of same-sex marriages from being able to be baptized into the church. Now, with the new prophet, not only are those children welcome into the church, that’s this generation of Mormons! They continue to undergo change after change after change within Mormonism.
I attest to you, this is not the case with Biblical Christianity. I have a family heritage that goes back several generations in the Christian faith, and I can attest to you that my great-great-grandfather believed the exact same things that I believe as a Christian on what is necessary for salvation. He believed the same Athanasian Creed that articulates the Trinity doctrine formulated by the Christian Church in the fourth century, he believed the Nicene Creed 325, Creed of Christianity, he believed all of these things because they’re taught in the Bible. And if you go back 19 hundred generations [years] of Christianity all the way back to the first century, salvation by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, as articulated by the teachings of Paul the Apostle, and are not affected by any textual variant whatsoever in the text of the Bible, these doctrines have held firm as a firm foundation for the historic Christian faith. So his argument, when applied to Mormonism, is very true. Was it clear to my grandfather in Mormonism, if his grandfather was a Mormon, absolutely not, it wasn’t clear to his grandfather. But when applied to Biblical Christianity, if his father or his grandfather was in Biblical Christianity, he would be able to say, like I can say about my grandfather who was a Biblical Christian, that yes, the doctrines of salvation have always been clear, all the way back to the first century of Christianity.
And even if we take the Creeds that were codified as the doctrines and beliefs of the church in the third and fourth century, you can go back to the writings of the very early church fathers who studied – let’s take Ignatius for example, who’s studied under the Apostle John. Ignatius talked about how Jesus is God; he studied under the writer of the Gospel of John, he studied under John directly. And we read statements as early as Ignatius saying, “Jesus Christ our God. Being the followers of God and stirring up ourselves by the blood of God, ye have perfectly accomplished the work which was beseeming to you. There is one physician who is possessed both of the flesh and spirit, both made and not made, God existing in the flesh, even Jesus Christ our Lord.”
That is a very clear statement about Jesus being God, agreeing with John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And we just read a little bit later on and we see, “The Word became flesh” and what did he say? He said that
God is existing in flesh; Ignatius agreed a hundred percent with John’s Gospel in John 1. And then we also see other Church Fathers teaching the concept of the Trinity, not just the God nature of Christ, but the concept of the Trinity. Let’s look at Clement of Alexandria, who lived around 215 AD. That was a good hundred years to two hundred years before the the Creed of Athanasius was codified by the church, but he yet talked about the Trinity. Listen to this: Clement of Alexandria said, “I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father.” So these concepts of the Trinity were nothing new. All the Creeds did in the fourth century was codify into a doctrine of the church what had already been taught by the early, early church fathers, and the Apostles themselves in their Scriptures.
A little bit later on in this debate, you’ll see in just a few minutes on from this point in the debate, you will see him bring up the 1 John 5 passage about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit being One, and he’ll make a comment like, “This is a key verse that teaches the Trinity.” And at that point in the debate, he looked at me, because I wrote the book Yes, you should believe in the Trinity, but in that book I point out, just as Dr. White has pointed out, that verse doesn’t appear in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament Scriptures until way past the Council of Nicaea, and the Council of Constantinople, and the Creed of Athanasius, when they were adopted in the fourth century. I think Dr. White said that verse actually shows up around the 10th century, so that’s how many hundreds of years passed before that verse even shows up in the scriptures the Creed was adopted? So we see, what about 600 years later, after the Creed is adopted by the church, you finally see that passage show up in somebody’s manuscript. So he makes a comment: “This isn’t a key scripture on the Trinity, or it’s not the best one.”
And at that point I said, and I don’t think you can hear it in the audio but I said, “It’s not the best one.” I’m going to give you guys a verse that is not disputed by a textual variant. It’s very, very clear where the Trinity doctrine can be seen clearly in the New Testament Scriptures. Now, we’ve already seen where that appears in the Old Testament, you probably remember that screen verse that I put up when Lee was saying, “It’s their shadows of the Trinity, but it’s not clear,” and I pointed out the verse in the Old Testament that says, “Now the Lord God has sent me and His Spirit (the Lord God being the Father has sent Me, Jesus Christ, and His Spirit)[Isa. 48:16]. There’s three persons and one God. How about this in the New Testament of a clear teaching of the Trinity. It’s not the Johannine Comma.
It is 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit and there are varieties of ministries yet the same Lord. And there are varieties of operations and yet it is the same God who performs all the operations in all persons.” So here you have the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God. There’s the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus and God the Father. The same Spirit, the same Lord and the same God. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. That is my favorite verse for showing the Trinity in one verse of Scripture. Both in the New Testament there’s a verse and in the Old Testament. The Trinity doctrine is clearly taught in the Scriptures, and thus it has been a teaching of the early church, even before the Creed was adopted in the fourth century.
So going back to my original point: go back 1900 years of Christianity and you find that the first-century Christians believed exactly the same thing that I believe, and that my grandfather and my great-grandfather believed, reading their King James Bible and me reading my NASB Bible. The textual variants make absolutely no change whatsoever to the doctrines and the policies and the teachings of the Christians. Now we’re gonna look at yet another video clip from the same rabbi, who claims that textual variants show distortion in the text of the New Testament, and he’s going to be talking about 1 John 5:7-8, in answer to someone who had called into his radio program. And in this video, you’re going to see an interesting claim of the rabbi that this is a principal teaching of the Trinity, that it was needed – the Scripture was needed to be added to the text in order to bolster a doctrine of the Trinity that he claims was unknown to the early church, and that it was not in the text of the New Testament Scriptures. But as we already saw in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, that claim is simply not true, because in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, we see a clear example of the Trinity where the father is the same God, the Son is the same Lord, and the Holy Spirit is the same Spirit. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are the same God. You can’t get much clearer than 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, yet this rabbi claims that there is no other Scripture for the Trinity that is so clearly articulated than this one passage here in 1 John 5:7-8 which is added in the 14th century. So let’s listen to this rabbi as he gives this argument, and then he gives some interesting history in how this particular passage got added to the text of the New Testament.
Wil’liam Hall: “Caller, welcome to the show.”
Caller: “What I have is one quick thing as years ago, I found out several years ago about the Johannine Comma insertion for the 1 John 5:7, could anything that was admittedly invented and added into Scripture. Question to the rabbi is maybe he knows more about this, the Koine Greek papyrus, which is pre-Nicaean Council. I have, it’s available online for free, as hundreds of things were added to the original New Testament and the Koine Greek that aren’t in any of the Christian Bibles I’ve ever seen. This is like the major, major thing they invented JC into a Divine thing. Well, he was never that way in the beginning. This seems to be totally ignored by Protestants. How has it brought into the Protestant Bible when it was never there, and it’s Roman Catholic thing. It never existed. Can the rabbi elaborate on that please?”
Wil’liam Hall: “That’s really interesting point he brings out, there’s so many things that were not in the original, why do they keep adding stuff, or why did they?”
Rabbi Tovia Singer: “As it turns out, if you’re looking at a King James Version of the Bible, there’s only one passage that you will find – clearly find – the doctrine of the Trinity conveyed and encapsulated, and that’s in 1 John. So it’s an epistle, it’s a letter, chapter five, verse seven and eight. And what you’ll find in the King James is that “There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” Well, that pretty much encapsulates the doctrine of the Trinity as it was hammered out at Nicaea and subsequently in Constantinople which comports perfectly with the Nicene Creed. That there is one God, but there is a distinction between three – later term – the three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Although they manifest differently, but there’s a division between them, they each have a role, but they’re ultimately all three are one. That’s what you’ll find in the King James Version. This is the only passage in a Christian Bible, in a King James Version where you’ll find a passage that specifically outlines the doctrine of the Trinity clearly and succinctly.
“There are other passages that Christians use from the Christian Bible to demonstrate that the doctrine of the Trinity is found in the Christian Bible, rather than it was a later Christian invention, which it was, but none of them illustrate. None of them described it as this does. The Great Commission that [says] “Go into all nations” and the very end of the book of Matthew, Matthew 28: “Go into all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.” That doesn’t that doesn’t convey the Trinity, because there’s nothing in that passage that tells us about the relationship between the three, doesn’t tell us that they’re one, none of that. So, no matter what anyone tells you, whether doubting Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” none of that tells us the Trinity, only that passage. None of them do. But you go to any fundamentals, any evangelicals, will say “No, no! This is what all the apostles believed.” Nonsense! No one believed this, and the Trinity would have been everywhere. The doctrine would have been everywhere. It was placed in because later Christians were disappointed that it did not appear there. And they then put, interpolated, into translations that people commonly read, publicly in the churches.
“They did this to translations in Latin and many other translations and Erasmus was threatened literally like, because Erasmus was going to produce a second and actually a third and fourth subsequent edition with all the corrections. He was threatened, “You had better insert 1 John 5:7, 8, that means insert that Trinitarian clause, that’s what the word comma means. That’s why it’s called the Johannine Comma. You’d better insert it. So Erasmus said, “Hey!” (This is described by Metzger, one of the great scholars of the 20th century), he said, “Just bring me a Greek manuscript that has this in it, this reading, this Trinitarian reading in it and I will definitely put it in my next edition.” And actually did, they actually made a tailor-made, custom-made manuscript, which is now sitting, I believe, in the museum in Ireland, where they literally had someone write, create a manuscript of the New Testament, and then when they came to that passage, they back-translated from the Latin into the Greek. That translation became the foundation for the Textus Receptus which is also, like, what the King James was built on and that’s why I use the term ‘King James Version’ carefully, because many Bible – this is widely known. What I’m telling you now is not some conspiracy theory, in fact, in honest Christian Bibles, they’ll say that this is a later edition, doesn’t appear in any Greek manuscript. And so this is very well known. But the King James left it in there, some King James Bibles do, I should say, put it in brackets, some of them will annotate this point, that they’re – there are no Greek manuscripts that have it – this is very, very important. But they literally had to create a Greek manuscript. This was done everywhere, up and down.”
We’ve just listened to the claims of a Jewish rabbi who teaches that the 1 John 5:7-8 passage in the King James Bible was added to support the Trinity doctrine, but let’s see what Dr. White has to say about this claim. Was this Scripture added to the text of the New Testament in order to teach the doctrine of the Trinity? Was it used, ever, in any of the literature of the Christian Church to support the Trinity doctrine? Let’s listen as Dr. White answers these questions, both in the question and answer period of the debate we’ve been featuring on the New Testament reliability. And then the next clip will be from his Dividing Line program, where he answered the question on this verse that was challenging the credibility of the New Testament texts. So let’s listen as he answers these questions on the 1 John 5:7 & 8 passage.
“Dr. White, was the 1 John 5:7 not invented to prove the Trinity?”
Dr. James White: “There was no reason for the invention to prove the Trinity, because the Trinity is a biblical doctrine, and is rather easily defended from the text of New Testament. The Johannine Comma arose as what’s called a gloss, probably a marginal gloss, that was the early interpretation of what the three witnesses that are there, the Word, the Blood and the Spirit, and as a marginal note, it became incorporated in Latin manuscripts in about the fifth century, became predominant in the later forms of the Latin Vulgate, and then was transferred into the Greek text, beginning in about the fourteenth – fifteenth century, and was not in the first two editions of Erasmus, but was put into the third edition, which became quite popular of Erasmus’s Novum Instrumentum.”
Dr. James White: “‘How can the Christian Bible be trusted when a principal scripture of the Trinity, 1 John 5:7-8 was deceitfully added by an unknown person to suggest the concept of the Trinity was valid? Is this really the Word of God?’ Now, as soon as anyone mentions the Johannine Comma, which is first John 5:7 in the King James Version of the Bible, 5:7-8. I know we’re not talking about a person who has serious understanding with the doctrine the Trinity is in the first place, and certainly does not have any meaningful idea of how the early church discussed the issue, talked about the issue, you will not find the Johannine Comma as the central verse that was being used the Council of Nicaea or anything else like that, to try to establish Trinitarian dogma. As I mentioned to the Muslim, this is probably a marginal reading that originated in the Latin manuscripts, and became a part of the Latin text, but did not become a part of the Greek manuscript tradition – well, at the earliest, of 14th century, And even then, it’s never become a part of the Greek manuscript tradition, unless you decide to turn the TR or whatever version of the TR you wanted, into some inspired translation and then you might as well just throw all the rest of this discussion out, because you’re no longer dealing with history. You’re dealing with a modern development and some type of theological argument you have to come up with to explain all that.
“So this is not a principal Scripture of the Trinity. You would not be able to demonstrate that from reading – just use Athanasius. Athanasius was the Bishop of Alexandria, he was the the primary defender of the Council of Nicaea. See how central it was to him, and you’ll see that it was not. So ‘deceitfully added’ – well in all probability it was a marginal note that a scribe, when you copy someone else’s manuscript, if they’re not around for you to ask them about marginal notes, the tendency of scribes was to include marginal notes in the text. Because when you were copying a text, if you missed something, if you skip something accidentally, and then you’re proofreading, you go, “I missed it!” – you didn’t go out and kill another cow to get some more parchment, you wrote it in the margin. Well, if you can’t ask the original scribe what was in the margin was supposed to be there or not, there was a conservative tendency amongst Christian scribes, and so you have the addition, just as you have in John chapter 5, the insertion of what was a marginal note into the text itself in later manuscripts. That’s probably where 1 John 5 came from, so you don’t know that it was deceitfully added by anyone. You don’t know what their reasons were, you seem to think that you do to suggest the concept the Trinity was valid. ‘That’s nice, how did you gain this capacity of reading people’s minds who you don’t know, who died thousands of years before you were born? May I question the validity of that particular process of yours?’ Yeah, I will question the validity of that process. The fact is, we know that it’s not original, it’s not central to the doctrine of the Trinity, and there you go.”
So there you have it. There’s absolutely no reason to suggest that this 1 John 5:7-8 passage was added to the TR (Textus Receptus of the King James Bible, that’s the Greek text the King James Bible relied on). It was not added to the text of the King James Bible in order to teach the Trinity doctrine. If it was, we would have seen it quoted in a significant church doctrine when they were trying to look for Scriptures to support the Trinity doctrine. Athanasius himself, whose work formed the basis of the development of the Athanasian Creed, one of the best Creeds on the Trinity doctrine, he never quotes this passage. So there’s no indication in church history that this passage was used to support the Trinity doctrine and there’s no indication in the writings that became the foundation for the Trinity doctrine being adopted by the early church. There’s no indication they ever used this passage at all. No one referenced it, no one quoted it, so there’s no indication that this text was a corruption added to the text of the Bible in order to teach the Trinity doctrine. This rabbi’s claims are completely baseless.
But what about this idea that this text was being forced upon Desiderius Erasmus to add it to his third edition of the Textus Receptus Greek text that he was compiling in order for the King James translators to be able to produce a Bible in English? What about this claim? He was pressured into putting this passage in because it appeared in the Latin Vulgate. Well, here’s my reason of why I think he was pressured. I used to attend a King James-only church, and in that church, if you walked into that church with a different Bible other than the King James Bible, they would give you a hard time about it, because they taught that the King James Bible was the only inspired Bible, and that all these other modern translations that rely on different Greek manuscripts, not the Textus Receptus, but like the Nestle Arland 27th edition of the Greek – that they would say that those new Greek manuscripts that are compiled from ancient manuscripts are really corruptions to the text. Why? Because the Nestle Arland Greek text or other Greek texts used by our modern English Bibles do not contain all of the expansions that the King James text contains. And so they’ll say that, well, the translators of these modern Bibles were taking things away from Scripture, and they were removing key doctrines of Scripture when they removed some of the texts, like this Johannine Comma passage that’s found in the King James Bible. They used the same kind of argument that was put on to Desiderius Erasmus when he tried to compile a Greek text, looking at just the Greek manuscripts he had available. And because those Greek manuscripts did not have this expanded text found in the Latin Vulgate, they pressured him into putting it into his Greek text, because they felt that Erasmus was actually corrupting the text of the Bible, because they thought it was original because it was in the Bible that they were used to reading. It was in the Latin Vulgate, the very translation that everybody had access to, and so it was the same argument that was given to me for wanting to read my New American Standard Bible at the King James-only church, they would argue, no, that’s a corrupted text because it doesn’t have the Johannine Comma, it doesn’t have all these expanded phrases that we find in the King James text. So the very same argument that was given to me by King James translator was likely the same argument that was given to Desiderius Erasmus. So the reason I bring this story up is I believe there’s a very likely, good reason for why that text was pressured on to Desiderius Erasmus. People thought it needed to be in there because it was in the Bible they were used to reading in the Latin Vulgate.
It’s not because they were trying to support a Trinity doctrine that they felt wasn’t supported well with the rest of the Scriptures in their Bible, that’s not it at all. They just thought that, well, it was in the Latin Vulgate, he should have added it to his Greek text for the King James Bible. And as we see, he was pressured into putting this in, because they manufactured a Greek text to try to trick him into putting this passage in, and it ended up in the King James Bible as a result. But this is not an evidence of the overall text of the New Testament Scripture being corrupted, nobody else puts the Johannine Comma in their modern translations that we find today, only those that follow the Greek text that Desiderius Erasmus compiled, the Textus Receptus, only those people which the King James Bible is based upon, the New King James Bible is based upon, but all of the modern editions today that utilize the best and more ancient Greek manuscripts do not put that in. So there’s no reason to suggest that the New Testament’s being corrupted by the fact that this verse is in some of the Greek text – well, the Textus Receptus – primarily, and some of the editions and translations that have been based on that particular Greek text. All of the textual critical scholars today all unanimously pretty much agree that wasn’t original, that text in the 1 John 5, and they don’t put it in, so how can you use this verse that is a spurious reading that is only utilized by a few of the Christian Bible translations?
How can you even use this Scripture as an example of corruptions to the text of the New Testament? You might say, well, it’s an example of some expansions that occurred in some of the later manuscripts of the text, but we can go back to those manuscripts that are far more ancient and determine what the original readings are, and that’s why all of the New Testament scholars agree that the New Testament is 99 percent accurate. Because the small variants that we do find, like this Johannine Comma, they don’t change the overall message of the text, and the removal of that passage doesn’t remove the fact that we can easily prove the Trinity from many other passages of the New Testament as Dr. White will examine in just a moment here. But I want to conclude this part of this video on textual variants with one more statement from this Jewish rabbi where he goes in and tries to make the claim that the Trinity doctrine is not found in the New Testament. So let’s listen to what he says, and then we’re gonna hear what Dr. White has to say about that claim.
Rabbi Tovia Singer: “I wonder does this last point – you have been told, if you’re a Christian listening to this, you have been told and drilled it into your head of the Trinity, the doctrinal Trinity with all the word of the Trinity is not there, but the concept of the Trinity is fully developed in the Christian Bible. It’s just absolutely not true. It’s an absolute lie, and this proves it, because what need would the latest scribes have to interpolate this thoroughly Trinitarian Comma, this clause, why would they put it in there if it was vestigial, if it was unnecessary? They obviously put it in there because they were very unsatisfied with the way the Christian Bible looked before it was put in there, and that’s why we’re living this doctrine of the Trinity, but this is the very nature of who God is, and the writers just didn’t think this was important enough to mention, and the only best proofs you have is, like, he said, my Lord, my God. This is the best you can come up with, the passage in 1 Corinthians, that it basically can only infer, not even a Trinity, just that Jesus was somehow a kind-of-divine being of what exactly nature is ambiguous, and that’s the source of – that’s the bottom line. The real answer is that the Jews don’t have to do that. They gave us the Torah. They told us exactly who God’s nature is and this is it: “Shama Yisra’el” Here O Israel. “Hashem ‘elohiym ‘echad Hashem?” (Deut. 6:4. Hebrew) the Lord is our God the Lord is One.’ We didn’t have to interpolate anything. ‘Before Me, there was no God formed and there will be none after me. I am a lone God there’s no one else with him but Me, besides Me.’ (yada ‘aman biyn paniym ‘el – Hebrew) ‘You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, to do what, was my purpose. The purpose is to know that there is no other Savior besides Me.’ Read Isaiah 43:10, 11 and turn back Him because He loves you. He makes this plain. We didn’t have to do this. We didn’t have to interpolate all these crazy things because the radical monotheism of Judaism was never changed. There’s no evolution. Nothing.”
We’ve just listened to this Jewish rabbi make the claim that Isaiah 43:10 where God says, You’re my witnesses, know and understand that before Me, there was no God formed, there will be no God after Me. He used that passage in the Hebrew Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, o Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” to try to teach that the Trinity doctrine is not found in the text of the Old Testament, but let’s listen in to what Dr. White had to say about this argument in his closing statements of the debate we’ve been featuring on New Testament reliability. He actually talked about this passage here in Isaiah 43:10, and he tied it to the claims of Christ in the New Testament and showed how Jesus was claiming to be God. Let’s listen in as he discusses this.
Dr. James White: “We’re told what nobody in the Old Testament expected these things, folks. I mean let me give you something that I’ve used many, many times, let me show you … You got a Bible? Somebody’s got a full Bible? Full text, because all I’ve got’s the Greek New Testament. Thank you very, very much. All right, let me show you where the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed. I’ve just turned to the beginning of Matthew, the end of Malachi. See the gutter right here? There’s where it’s revealed. What do I mean by that? The primary revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity is found in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which took place in history right there. Everything after it is written in light of what happened historically in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, is written upon – by experiential Trinitarians. Peter was a Trinitarian. He had heard the Father speak from heaven, he had walked with the Son, he was now indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. And so why should you have the Old Testament talking about the Trinity when the revelation had yet to take place? Oh, there are texts that specifically give us images. Isaiah 9:6 and many others, that give us images of what’s coming. But the revelation had not yet taken place. It took place in history.
“In John 13:19, take a look at it with me. On the night of his betrayal – and by the way, we have the earliest manuscript evidence of – guess which one of the gospels – John. Isn’t that interesting? May not have been the first one written, but the earliest manuscript evidence we have all comes from John. On the night of his betrayal, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘From now on I’m telling you before it comes to pass, in order that when it does take place, you may believe ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, hoti ego eimi, (Septuagint of Isaiah 43:10) That I am.’ That I am. Now, it’s just said the Jews knew their Scriptures, yes they did, and many of the Jews knew their Scriptures in Greek because it was good to know Greek in those days, especially when the Roman soldiers started yelling at you in Greek, it was good to know what he was saying. Very, very good. And so, when Jesus said these words, and He’s talking about the betrayal of Judas, ‘I’m going to tell you before it happens, so when it does happen, you may know and believe and understand I am He.’ You know where that comes from? Jesus quoting Scripture of Himself.
“You and I know Isaiah 43:10, because we deal with Mormonism all the time. ‘Before Me there is no God formed, and there should be none after Me.’ Right? What’s the beginning of the verse? ‘You are my servant whom I have chosen,’ right? Why? Why were they chosen? What was God gonna do for them? It’s in the context of prophecy of future events, and He says this to them, and He says, ‘so that you may know and believe’ and do what? ‘and understand that I am He.’ the Hebrew is אֲנִי הוּא (anna who). What is anna who translated by in the Greek Septuagint all through Isaiah? ego eimi (Greek) ‘I am.’ Uses the exact same forms of verbs. Did Jesus know his Old Testament Scriptures? You better believe He did. And on the night of His betrayal, He says to his disciples, ‘I’m telling you what happens before it happens so when it does, you may believe that I am.’
And He quotes from the prophet of Isaiah about Himself, identifying Him as who? Yahweh. The New Testament writers identify the Father as Yahweh, the Son as Yahweh, the Spirit as the Spirit of Yahweh, and so you have one God. We are monotheists, but the fact that Paul will quote from Isaiah, ‘Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess’ to who? ‘Yahweh.’ Who is that? In Philippians chapter 2: Jesus. Peter does the same thing, John does the same thing. This is the earliest testimony that we have, and I can back up the historical reading of that text, there aren’t any variants, this is what was written. So we’ve covered a lot of ground tonight. There are excellent books out there that would give you a background, especially to the issues in regards to textual criticism. There are exciting developments right now. In this area, we are evermore increasing our level of confidence in this area. The very time it’s under attack, that’s a wonderful gift from God. It is not a reason to reject the Christian faith. There’s something else going on there. Take the time to do the study yourself, and you will discover the New Testament is the best, most ancient, and widely attested work of antiquity. I believe God has preserved it for us. He’s preserved it in such a way it could not have been changed by some organization who had control over it, and that’s why you have the few textual variants you have. That was the methodology of preservation. Thank you for being here this evening.”
Well, we’ve covered a lot of ground as we’ve been going through this series on the textual variants that are found in the text of the New Testament, and also in the text of the Old Testament, and as we’ve been studying each of these textual variants, we have seen that none of them corrupt the message of the text in any way. Not a single textual variant, whether you go with one reading or with another reading, whether you have that passage included or you have that passage taken out, even in the case of the Johannine Comma. Even in 1 John 5:7-8, even if you remove that, it doesn’t take away the message of the New Testament that shows the Trinity doctrine. So we know that, just by examining the evidence, we can see that textual variants do not change the message of the New Testament or the Old Testament. The Bible has been preserved as God promised, as Jesus promises, “the heaven and earth will pass away but My word,” He said, “My words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35)
And we can see that clearly when we examine these textual variants, that His words, His message, His teachings, His truth about the gospel salvation being by faith in Christ, and if we trust in what He has done at Calvary to pay for our sins, we can have our sins forgiven if we trust in Him and we know we can live eternally with God. And that Jesus is able to pay for our sins because He is God in the flesh, He is the Son of God who is both God and man, 100 percent man and 100 percent God. That’s why he’s called the Son of God and the son of man. We see that clearly in the Scriptures. And as Dr. White said, the primary revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity is found in the New Testament, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As it said, the Word became flesh, the Word is God; “In the beginning was the word and the Word was God and God was the Word.”
καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (kai theos en ho logos – Greek). “So God was the Word, Jesus Himself the Word became flesh,” verse 14, “and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as the glory of the only begotten, full of grace and truth,” as it says in John chapter one. So that’s the beauty of the New Testament. It completes the revelation of the Old Testament which just gives us shadows of the Trinity; we see many passages where God shows up as both – when He comes to Abraham, you see God show up, and so the Lord shows up, and then He sends down fire from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapter 18. So He shows up. Three men appear to Abraham and he finds out that they have the Lord and the Lord goes and brings judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, and brings out Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah, and at the same time calls down fire from heaven, from the Lord Yahweh in heaven.
So we see shadowing of the Trinity, of the two natures of God, of one invisible God and one visible God known as the angel of Yahweh, who appears to Joshua in Zechariah 3, and takes away his sins as Joshua is standing before Yahweh, the throne of Yahweh you have the angel of Yahweh before the throne of Yahweh, and they’re both God, called Yahweh the Lord God in Zechariah 3. So, we see so many shadows of the Trinity in the Old Testament, but the primary revelation is to be found in the New Testament.
So this concludes our analysis of the textual variants found in the manuscripts of the Bible. As we have seen, there is absolutely no comparison between the doctrinal changes that Joseph Smith made to the texts and the revelations of Mormon scriptures, and those textual differences, scribal marginal notes, and mistakes that were copied into the some of the manuscripts of the New Testament. There’s absolutely no comparison between textual variants and changes that Joseph Smith made to Mormon scriptures. As we can see, Christianity is not the Mormonism of Judaism; there’s a complete difference between how Mormonism distorts the scriptures and how Christianity has preserved the message of both the New and the Old Testament with our manuscripts. God has preserved the manuscripts through His inspiration, even when we do have variants in the New Testament manuscripts or the Old Testament manuscripts; they do not change a single doctrine. And we know that we can trust that God has preserved His Word, especially as we have analyzed the manuscripts that we have of the Bible and can see God’s truth shining through, even in the textual variants. This is a stark contrast to Mormonism, where the very revelations that Joseph Smith received from God were changed in a controlled manuscript that isn’t ancient. It wasn’t a result of copying errors. These were direct changes that Joseph Smith made to the text, but in the New Testament, none of the scribal differences and errors that we see in some of the variances in the manuscripts affect a single doctrine of Christianity. God has preserved His Word and you can trust it to be your foundation for your faith. [Music]