Latter-day Saints are frequently and savagely attacked for their Eighth Article of Faith that says in part:
"We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly."
Critics say this proves that Latter-day Saints do not believe the Holy Bible to be 'reliable,' and that it is held by Mormons to be inferior to the Book of Mormon. It appears from the regularity with which they throw up this criticism that they wouold have us believe all other Chrisians believe the Holy Bible to be perfect, complete, inerrant, and without any kind of error or fault or corruption at all. That this is clearly not the case is evident by the array of honest divines, theologians, and Bible scholars that while they are neither members nor even supporters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do acknowledge that the modern Holy Bible in any and all its variants does not read as it did when it was frist written under the inspiration of heaven. We will look at just a few ot these whilst emphasising that they are only a fraction of the whole array of Bible scholars that are in complete agreemient with the Latter-day Saints Eighth Article of Faith.
Why Every Christian Should Criticize Corrupt Bible Versions - By David J. Stewart | April 2014
"I feel oftentimes like the Lone Ranger in my stand for the Lord. Thank God for the small handful of godly pastors, evangelists, authors, Christians, both men and women of God who do stand for THE TRUTH. The truth has never been popular. That's ok, I'll stand alone as did Elijah, and I know that there are thousands more godly men and women who are awake to righteousness and are not ignorant of Satan's devices." [jesusisprecious.org]
Dr. W Graham Scroggie of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, says:
"Yes, the Bible is human, although some out of zeal which is not according to knowledge, have denied this. Those books have passed through the minds of men, are written in the language of men, were penned by the hands of men and bear in their style the characteristics of men."
Peake's Commentary on the Bible says
"The famous interpolation after 'three witnesses' [The Comma Johanneum] is not printed even in Revised Standard Version, and rightly. It cites the heavenly testimony of the Father, the logos, and the Holy Spirit, but is never used in the early Trinitarian controversies. No respectable Greek MS contains it. Appearing first in a late 4th-cent. Latin text, it entered the Vulgate and finally the NT of Erasmus."
According to Newton, this verse first appeared in the third edition of Erasmus's (1466-1536) New Testament.
For all of the above reasons, we find that when thirty two biblical scholars backed by fifty cooperating Christian denominations got together to compile the Revised Standard Version of the Bible based upon the most ancient Biblical manuscripts available to them today, they made some very extensive changes. Among these changes was the unceremonious discardal of the verse of 1 John 5:7 as the fabricated insertion that it is. For more on the compilation of the RSV Bible, please read the preface of any modern copy of that Bible.
Sir Isaac Newton On The Bible
In 1690, Sir Isaac Newton (died 1727) wrote a manuscript on the corruption of the text of the New Testament concerning I John 5:7 and Timothy 3:16. It was entitled, "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture." Due to the prevailing environment against criticism, he felt it unwise to profess his beliefs openly and felt that printing it in England would be too dangerous. Newton sent a copy of this manuscript to John Locke requesting him to have it translated into French for publication in France. Two years later, Newton was informed of an attempt to publish a Latin translation of it anonymously. However, Newton did not approve of its availability in Latin and persuaded Locke to take steps to prevent this publication. Below are excerpts from "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture."
Newton on 1 John 5:7
Newton states that this verse appeared for the first time in the third edition of Erasmus's New Testament. When they got the Trinity; into his edition they threw by their manuscript, if they had one, as an almanac out of date. And can such shuffling dealings satisfy considering men?....
It is rather a danger in religion than an advantage to make it now lean on a broken reed. In all the vehement universal and lasting controversy about the Trinity in Jerome's time and both before and long enough after it, this text of the "three in heaven" was never once thought of. It is now in everybody's mouth and accounted the main text for the business and would assuredly have been so too with them, had it been in their books.
"Let them make good sense of it who are able. For my part, I can make none. If it be said that we are not to determine what is Scripture what not by our private judgments, I confess it in places not controverted, but in disputed places I love to take up with what I can best understand. It is the temper of the hot and superstitious art of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries, and for that reason to like best what they understand least. Such men may use the Apostle John as they please, but I have that honour for him as to believe that he wrote good sense and therefore take that to be his which is the best."
Newton on I Timothy 3:16
In all the times of the hot and lasting Arian controversy it never came into play . . . they that read "God manifested in the flesh" think it one of the most obvious and pertinent texts for the business. "The word Deity imports exercise of dominion over subordinate beings and the word God most frequently signifies Lord. Every lord is not God. The exercise of dominion in a spiritual being constitutes a God. If that dominion be real that being is the real God; if it be fictitious, a false God; if it be supreme, a supreme God."
Newton also wrote a discussion on two other texts that Athanasius had attempted to corrupt. This work has not been preserved. He believed that not all the books of the Scriptures have the same authority.
Peake's Commentary on the Bible, p. 633
"Yet, as a matter of fact, every book of the New Testament with the exception of the four great Epistles of St. Paul is at present more or less the subject of controversy, and interpolations are asserted even in these."
Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 12th Ed. Vol. 3, p. 643
Dr. Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf, one of the most adamant conservative Christian defenders of the Trinity and one of the Church's foremost scholars of the Bible was himself driven to admit that: "[the New Testament had] in many passages undergone such serious modification of meaning as to leave us in painful uncertainty as to what the Apostles had actually written" --Secrets of Mount Sinai, James Bentley, p. 117
After listing many examples of contradictory statements in the Bible, Dr. Frederic Kenyon says:
"Besides the larger discrepancies, such as these, there is scarcely a verse in which there is not some variation of phrase in some copies [of the ancient manuscripts from which the Bible has been collected]. No one can say that these additions or omissions or alterations are matters of mere indifference" --Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, Dr. Frederic Kenyon, Eyre and Spottiswoode, p. 3
The Biblical world has in its possession a large collection of ancient manuscripts of the Bible. These ancient copies of the Bible were written in different locations around the world and in different ages. We are told that in our current age there are up to 24,000 such ancient copies of the Bible. These are the manuscripts that the scholars go to in order to produce our modern Bibles (such as the KJV, the RSV, the NIV, etc.). In most cases the most ancient copies of the Bible are the ones held in the highest regard and considered to be the most accurate. This, however, is not a hard and fast rule.
All biblical versions of the Bible prior to the revised version of 1881 were dependent upon the "Ancient copies" (those dated at about five to six hundred years after Jesus). The revisers of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) 1952 were the first biblical scholars to have access to the "Most ancient copies" which date roughly four hundred years after Christ. It is only logical for us to concur that the closer a document is to the source the more authentic it is. Upon discovering these "most" ancient copies of the Bible, what did the scholars of the Bible learn about their "King James Version" (KJV) of the Bible? In the preface of the RSV 1971 we find the following: "...Yet the King James Version has GRAVE DEFECTS.."
They go on to caution us that:
"...That these defects are SO MANY AND SO SERIOUS as to call for revision"
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible by Oxford Press has the following to say in its preface:
"Yet the King James Version has serious defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of biblical studies and the discovery of many biblical manuscripts more ancient than those on which the King James Version was based made it apparent that these defects were so many as to call for revision."
Who says so? Who are these people who claim that the Bible in the hands of the majority of today's Christians contains "many" "grave defects" which are so "serious" as to require a complete overhaul of the text? Well, we can find the answer in the very same RSV Bible. In it, the publishers themselves (Collins) mention on page 10 of their notes:
"This Bible (RSV) is the product of thirty two scholars assisted by an advisory committee representing fifty cooperating denominations"
Let us see what is the opinion of Christendom with regard to these scholars and their work in the revision of the Bible (revised by them in 1952 and then again in 1971):
"The finest version which has been produced in the present century" - (Church of England newspaper)
"A completely fresh translation by scholars of the highest eminence" - (Times literary supplement)
"The well loved characteristics of the authorized version combined with a new accuracy of translation" - (Life and Work)
"It is highly probable that not one of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) was in existence in the form which we have it, prior to the death of Paul. And were the documents to be taken in strict order of chronology, the Pauline Epistles would come before the synoptic Gospels." --History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge, Rev. Charles Anderson Scott, p.338
This statement is further confirmed by Prof. Brandon:
"The earliest Christian writings that have been preserved for us are the letters of the apostle Paul" --"Religions in Ancient History," S.G.F. Brandon, p. 228.
In the latter part of the second century, Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth says:
"As the brethren desired me to write epistles, I did so, and these the apostles of the devil have filled with tares (changes), exchanging some things and adding others, for whom there is a woe reserved. It is not therefore, a matter of wonder if some have also attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord, since they have attempted the same in other works that are not to be compared with these."
Victor Tununensis, a sixth century African Bishop related in his Chronicle (566 AD) that when Messala was consul at Costantinople (506 AD), he "censored and corrected" the Gentile Gospels written by persons considered illiterate by the Emperor Anastasius. The implication was that they were altered to conform to sixth century Christianity which differed from the Christianity of previous centuries (The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Barnabas, and the New Testament, by M. A. Yusseff, p. 81)
These "corrections" were by no means confined to the first centuries after Christ. Higgins says:
"It is impossible to deny that the Bendictine Monks of St. Maur, as far as Latin and Greek language went, were very learned and talented, as well as numerous body of men. In Cleland's 'Life of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury', is the following passage: 'Lanfranc, a Benedictine Monk, Archbishop of Canterbury, having found the Scriptures much corrupted by copyists, applied himself to correct them, as also the writings of the fathers, agreeably to the orthodox faith, secundum fidem orthodoxam [according to orthodox faith]." --History of Christianity in the light of Modern knowledge, Higgins p.318
In other words, the Christian scriptures were re-written in order to conform to the doctrines of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and even the writings of the early church fathers were "corrected" so that the changes would not be discovered. Higgins goes on to say:
"The same Protestant divine has this remarkable passage: 'Impartiality exacts from me the confession, that the orthodox have in some places altered the Gospels'."
The author goes on to demonstrate how a massive effort was undertaken in Costantinople, Rome, Canterbury, and the Christian world in general in order to "correct" the Gospels and destroy all manuscripts before this period.
Theodore Zahan, illustrated the bitter conflicts within the established churches in Articles of the Apostolic Creed. He points out that the Roman Catholics accuse the Greek Orthodox Church of remodeling the text of the holy scriptures by additions and omissions with both good as well as evil intentions. The Greek Orthodox, on the other hand, accuse the Roman Catholics of straying in many places very far away from the original text. In spite of their differences, they both join forces to condemn the non-conformist Christians of deviating from "the true way" and condemn them as heretics. The "heretics" in turn condemn the Catholics for having "recoined the truth like forgers." The author concludes "Do not facts support these accusations?"
St. Augustine himself, a man acknowledged and looked up to by both Protestants and Catholics professed that there were secret doctrines in the Christian religion and that
"there were many things true in the Christian religion which it was not convenient for the vulgar to know, and that some things were false, but convenient for the vulgar to believe in them."
"It is not unfair to suppose that in these withheld truths we have part of the modern Christian mysteries, and I think it will hardly be denied that the church, whose highest authorities held such doctrines, would not scruple to retouch the sacred writings" (The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Barnabas, and the New Testament, M. A. Yusseff, p.83)
Even the epistles attributed to Paul were not written by him. After years of research, Catholics and most Protestants agree that of the thirteen epistles attributed to Paul, only seven are his. They are: Romans, 1, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philipians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians.
"In any event, none of [the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible] now survive. What do survive are copies made over the course of centuries, or more accurately, copies of the copies of the copies, some 5,366 of them in the Greek language alone, that date from the second century down to the sixteenth. Strikingly, with the exception of the smallest fragments, no two of these copies are exactly alike in their particulars. No one knows how many differences, or variant readings, occur among the surviving witnesses, but they must number in the hundreds of thousands."
The commentators of the NRSV by Oxford Press have supplied both a "short ending" and a "long ending." Thus, we are given a choice of what we would prefer to be the "inspired word of God". Once again, at the end of this Gospel in very small text, the commentators say:
"Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8. One authority concludes the book with the shorter ending; others include the shorter ending and then continue with verses 9-20. In most authorities, verses 9-20 follow immediately after verse 8, though in some of these authorities the passage is marked as being doubtful."
Peake's Commentary on the Bible records;
"It is now generally agreed that 9-20 are not an original part of Mk. They are not found in the oldest MSS, and indeed were apparently not in the copies used by Mt. and Lk. A 10th-cent. Armenian MS ascribes the passage to Aristion, the presbyter mentioned by Papias (ap.Eus.HE III, xxxix, 15)."
"Indeed an Armenian translation of St. Mark has quite recently been discovered, in which the last twelve verses of St. Mark are ascribed to Ariston, who is otherwise known as one of the earliest of the Christian Fathers; and it is quite possible that this tradition is correct" --Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, F. Kenyon, Eyre and Spottiswoode, pp. 7-8
"Nonetheless, there are some kinds of textual changes for which it is difficult to account apart from the deliberate activity of a transcriber. When a scribe appended an additional twelve verses to the end of the Gospel of Mark, this can scarcely be attributed to mere oversight" --The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Bart Ehrman, pp. 27-28
"…The gospel of Mark ends abruptly, at 16.8, and early attempts to add an ending show that it was felt to be incomplete. It is possible that the book was never finished or that it was damaged at an early stage. Yet it may be our knowledge of the other Gospels that makes us expect this one to end with appearances of the risen Lord. Certainly, it ends in an appropriate way for Mark - with fear, human failure, and the call to discipleship …" --The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, p. 496
Even at that, these verses are noted as having been narrated differently in different "authorities." For example, verse 14 is claimed by the commentators to have the following words added on to them in some "ancient authorities":
"and they excused themselves saying 'This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore, reveal your righteousness now' - thus they spoke to Christ and Christ replied to them 'The term of years of Satan's power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, that they may inherit the spiritual and imperishable glory of the righteousness that is in heaven.'"
Dr. Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf was one of the most eminent conservative biblical scholars of the nineteenth century. One of his greatest lifelong achievements was the discovery of the oldest known Biblical manuscript know to mankind, the "Codex Sinaiticus," from Saint Catherine's Monastery in Mount Sinai. This was one of the manuscripts which influenced the Christian recognition of the need to produce the RSV Bible. One of the most devastating discoveries made from the study of this fourth century manuscript was that the gospel of Mark originally ended at verses 16:8 and not at verse 16:20 as it does today. In other words, the last 12 verses (Mark 16:9 through Mark 16:20) were "injected" by the Church into the Bible sometime after the 4th century.
This conclusion was supported by the fact that the early Church fathers of the second century C.E. such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen never quoted these verses. Later on, it was also discovered that the said 12 verses, wherein lies the account of "the resurrection of Jesus," do not appear in codices Syriacus, Vaticanus and Bobiensis. Originally, the "Gospel of Mark" contained no mention of the "resurrection of Jesus" (Mark 16:9-20). At least four hundred years (if not more) after the departure of Jesus, the Church, by way of father Ariston, received divine "inspiration" to add the story of the resurrection to the end of this Gospel and then allow Christianity to attribute these inserted verses to "Mark."
The author of "Codex Sinaiticus" had no doubt that the Gospel of Mark came to an end at Mark 16:8, to emphasize this point we find that immediately following this verse he brings the text to a close with a fine artistic squiggle and the words "The Gospel according to Mark."
Tischendorf was a staunch conservative Christian and as such he managed to casually brush this discrepancy aside since in his estimation the fact that Mark was not an apostle nor an eye witness to the ministry of Jesus made his account secondary to those of the apostles such as Matthew and John. However, as seen elsewhere in this book, the majority of Christian scholars today recognize the writings of Paul to be the oldest of the writings of the Bible. These are closely followed by the "Gospel of Mark" and the "Gospels of Matthew and Luke" are almost universally recognized to have been based upon the "Gospel of Mark." This discovery was the result of centuries of detailed and painstaking studies by these Christian scholars and the details can not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that most reputable Christian scholars today recognize this as a basic indisputable fact.
Today, the translators and publishers of our modern Bibles are beginning to be a little more forthright and honest with their readers. As we have just seen, although they may not simply openly admit that these twelve verses were forgeries of the Church and not the word of God, still, at least they are beginning to draw the reader's attention to the fact that there are two "versions" of the "Gospel of Mark" and then leave the reader to decide what to make of these two "versions."
Now the question becomes "if the Church has tampered with the Gospel of Mark, then did they stop there or is there more to this story?. As it happens, Tischendorf also discovered that the "Gospel of John" has been heavily reworked by the Church over the ages. For example,
1. It was found that the verses starting from John 7:53 to 8:11 (the pericope of the woman taken in adultery) are not to be found in the most ancient copies of the Bible available today, specifically, codices Sinaiticus or Vaticanus.
2. It was also found that John 21:25 was a later insertion, and that a verse from the gospel of Luke (24:12) that speaks of Peter discovering the empty tomb of Jesus is not to be found in the ancient manuscripts.
Further information may be found in 'Secrets of Mount Sinai' by James Bentley, Doubleday, NY, 1985