Ancient Texts

If you have one of the “modern” translations of the Bible, such as the New International Version or the New American Standard Bible, you may have seen a note at Mark 16:9, “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” What are these “reliable early manuscripts”?

One of the two major “reliable early manuscripts” is the Codex Vaticanus.(1) This Bible has been in the possession of the Vatican since 1481 and some fragments of the New Testament are missing.

The second major “reliable early manuscript” is the Codex Sinaiticus discovered by Constantin von Tischendorf. In 1844 Tischendorf, a German Biblical scholar, was visiting the Monastery of St. Catherine on what is known as Mount Sinai. According to Halley’s Bible Handbook Tischendorf “noticed, in a waste basket of leaves (pages) set aside to be burned, vellum pages with Greek writing.” Upon examination he found that these pages were from an ancient version of the Septuagint Old Testament. He searched, but could find no more.

Fifteen years later, in 1859, again at the Monastery of St. Catherine Tischendorf found the remainder of the manuscript wrapped in a paper napkin. After much negotiation, this valuable manuscript was displayed in the Imperial Library, St. Petersburg, Russia. Today it is in the British Library, London, England. The original forty-three pages Tischendorf found in 1844 are in the University Library, Leipzig, Germany.

There have been thousands of changes and corrections made to the Codex Sinaiticus. Tischendorf noted that at least ten different scribes had made changes to the Scripture.(2) One scholar viewed the Mark chapter sixteen portion of the manuscript and noted that the last twelve verses of that chapter had been pumiced out, or erased.(3)

Further, it appears that these two Bibles are not two separate witnesses. Tischendorf felt that they both came from the same scriptorium.

I find it astonishing that the Textus Receptus (Received Text) would be discarded for these obviously edited, amended and redacted texts. There are several ancient Bibles that pre-date the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus and are based upon the Textus Receptus, and yet their reliability is not sufficient. (!?!)

If the earlier translations of the Bible that are based on the Textus Receptus are not reliable and the corrupted Codex Sinaiticus is considered reliable, a question arises. Why? What was the agenda, for there obviously was one, of the “scholars” who determined that the Textus Receptus is not reliable?

The Word of God is inerrant, infallible and precisely what He intended for us to have. The translations that we have today have errors; some more than others.

The Bible is considered to be like a hologram, the three-dimensional laser-generated photograph. If you remove a part of a hologram, the picture is still complete but its resolution, its focus, is not as sharp. If you remove part of the Bible, the picture is still complete. The “scholars” that drove the movement to use the edited versions of Scripture as a basis for their translations have caused those translations to lose focus, but the Word is still complete.

Praise the Lord for the Holy Bible that we have received.


1 - A codex is a book written in pages, as we have today. Prior to the codex, books were written on scrolls.
2 -
3 - Pastor David L. Brown, Ph. D.

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