Is it legal to add a single word to the Holy Scripture?

Is it legal to add a single word to the Holy Scripture? If no, then what is the difference between adding a single word to the Holy Scripture and adding a single word to the Creed? Why do Roman Catholics think that adding a single word to the Holy Scripture is not legal, whereas adding a single word to the Creed is legal?

Let’s think about who has defined what is and what is not Holy Scripture. Rather than issue tickets to enforce any deviations of Holy Scripture, it would be rather obvious that the Catholic Church would simply not care how many versions of Scripture are floating about. This has no connection whatsoever to any Creed that the Church has adopted or will adopt over the ages. The Catholic Church determines what is and what is not to be used in the liturgy of the Holy Mass. The Catholic Church determined what is Holy Scripture. The Catholic Church determines what it’s members must adhere to in all sacramental matters. See a pattern?
The Church is not held accountable to any legal authority for what is contained in their Creed or what is contained in their approved Holy Scripture or what is or is not Catholic, or what liturgy she approves.

In scripture we are warned to neither add too or take away from the Word of God. This is a grave sin, not a legal issue.

The Creed is a different issue, and reflects the beliefs of those who are Catholic.

Question: Is there a particular word or group of words you think have been added to either?

I have a feeling that this is a roundabout way of someone questioning the filoque.

I do too, but I guess we will have to wait and see if the poster will be forthright and not beat around a bush if that is the actual intent. Perhaps his question makes sense if he lives in Russia, where the government and the Orthodox Church have a different relationship than the Universal Catholic Church has in the world. That may explain his focus on what is legal and not legal.

It has been done, 1 John 5:7, 8 are very suspect verses. See

The book “Misquoting Jesus” gives an excellent description of how Biblical texts can differ.

We had this happen in our parish many years ago.
The lector had studied from his personal Bible prior to reading at Mass. (no idea what edition), nevertheless,
he believed “his” home version made more sense, so he said


instead I AM WHO AM.

Theologically a huge difference. The priest, and much of the congregation was really upset.

There was much teaching that followed this particular Sunday, and rest assured, the gentleman never messed with the text ever again.
One word DOES make a difference.
One might think it harmless, but it is, as a previous posted stated, a grave error.


Actually there is no dogma regarding “adding a single word to the Holy Scripture” in Catholicism that violates any of its doctrines regarding Scripture or Canon Law.

The Magisterium itself decides what is considered canonical Scripture and what is not. adding “single words” may (and indeed has occurred) through history as the Church continues to study the best manuscript evidence available.

As older and very reliable manuscripts have been discovered over the centuries, in rare cases it has been noticed that very few, though minor, scribal errors have crept in to versions of the Sacred Scriptures. Some of these have even been little more than an over-eagerness to adopt “new” or “inventive” readings of the original extant manuscript text available at the time the version was constructed. This has led the Church to update its Latin Vulgate editions over the years.

When the Dead Sea/Qumran scrolls were discovered in the middle of the last century this dramatically changed the way even some basic words were understood through history. Discoveries among these texts have brought to light further evidence which caused many to rethink previously held “facts” when the evidence from antiquity no longer supported them.

This has called for a few changes in the text, not only in the Latin, but also in the modern language versions we now read. The changes have been extremely minor, sometimes causing little more than a change in spelling, but sometimes the removal or addition of several words, even small sections such as in 1 Samuel and Tobit, have been necessary. However nothing doctrinal has been changed.

Does this violate the Scriptural command not to add or take away from the inspired text written at Revelation 22:18, 19? No.

First, that text is discussing “the prophetic words in this book,” namely the book of Revelation. It is a warning not to change its contents. While the principle is applicable to the way Catholics view Sacred Scripture as a whole, the warning is to avoid not only adding but ‘taking away’ anything too.

Therefore when discoveries of new empirical textual evidence supports the need to remove or add a few words here and there to previous versions of the canonical text, this is done to make sure nothing has been added or taken away.

It should be noted that even where some of these instances occur, nothing major has been changed or introduced. The text basically reads the same as it has since the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll was inscribed. The current Nova Vulgata has been under consideration for better alignment to this evidence since the discoveries were made to see where any changes to the text may be necessary if at all.

Since Catholics place their faith and trust in the Magisterium to make the call on what is canonical or not, the adding of a single word where necessary to ensure accuracy of Sacred Scripture has never been against dogma nor breaks any canon laws.

Very good that you say that it is a grave sin. But what if one will add a word to the Holy Scripture which will explain the teaching which is already contained in the Holy Scripture rather than add any new teaching? For example: some Protestants claim that brothers of Jesus are Mary’s children, so, then, what if one will add a word or several words which will explain that they were not Mary’s children? Will such addition be still a “grave sin”?

But this could be done unintentionally. It was not a decision of a Council or Pope, like “we decree that the following words must be added to 1 John: …”. Whereas I’m asking about intentional addition.

So why do you think that this “principle is applicable to the way Catholics view Sacred Scripture as a whole”, but isn’t applicable to the Creed? Isn’t the Creed inspired by the Holy Spirit as the Sacred Scripture is?


I mean only additions which occur in none of the manuscripts, the additions which are intended to explain teaching that is already contained in the Holy Scripture, but are not intended to make the text of the Holy Scripture better correspondent with the manuscripts.

In Roman Catholicism the Deposit of Faith consists of Apostolic Tradition and Sacred Scripture, but Holy Writ or the inspired written Word of God consists only of canonical Scripture.

Though the creeds are formulas or statements of Catholic belief, these written formulas are not considered inspired holy writ. In Roman Catholicism the only written documents that are considered “God breathed” consist of what can be found in the canon of Holy Scripture.

You are correct. Without empirical support from extant manuscripts no additions would be made to versions of Sacred Scripture as this would invalidate the canonical process which, in the view of Catholics, has already been completed.

Since Vadim244 admitted it was, it should be stated that this is a perfect example of what is known as a “non sequitur” approach.

While not commenting on the filoque issue, the argument itself is invalid as the logic being employed will never work. The conclusion that Vadim244 seeks does not follow from its premises, namely the issue regarding the “legality” of “adding a single word” to Scripture.

To prove an argument one must raise the argument itself. Arguing from a different premise doesn’t work because there is no connection between the premise raised here and the conclusion Vadim244 seeks. A valid argument does not exist when the method employed for logic is non sequitur.

If I recall,correct me if I am wrong,but one reason for the filoque was due to some heretical teachings floating around in the West. Again, I could be wrong. :shrug:

What about the Amplified Bible?

If we were to keep from adding or removing a word of scripture, then were would never have been any translations. Concepts in one language that are encapsulated in one word may take a sentence to state in another. Even then, some expressions may not be at all sensible if translated literally. An example: in German, we speak of " auf die Schlange stehen." It means “queing up” in British English, or “standing on or in ] line” in American English. If you translate the German literally, it would be “standing on the snake.” As far as In know, snake handling was never a German practice.

A second consideration is that words may change meaning or lose meaning. Jews discovered some centuries after the Exodus that some of the animal names known to the Israelites were no longer in use, so that animals to which they referred could not be identified. The reason that this was important was that the terms concerned food laws.

We also have to think about textual variations, such as the end of the Book of Mark. Some of the ancient texts include Mark 16:9-20 and others have different endings. Does one accept the idea of lectio difficile and go with the harder reading, or does one go with the oldest witnesses, or make a democratic decision and use what the majority of witnesses have?

DelsonJacobs, if we want to apply logic, then we should first clarify our premises. So you agreed that it is not legal to add a single word to the Scripture. Now let us clarify what is the exact reason that it is not legal. Is it not legal only because of the prohibition in the book of Revelation, or rather, the prohibition in the book of Revelation doesn’t impose any new laws on us, but, rather, repeats something that is already self-evident – that is, repeats that it is not legal, but is sinful, to add a single word to any written documents that are considered God breathed?

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