Missing Verses in Old Manuscripts


Depending on the translation you read, it may well be the case that some verses from the New Testament are not included. I will quote some of them from the Douay-Rheims Version below.

Saint Matthew
But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting. — 17:20
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. — 18:11
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: because you devour the houses of widows, praying long prayers. For this you shall receive the greater judgment. — 23:14

Saint Mark
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. — 7:16
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. — 9:45, 47
But if you will not forgive, neither will your Father that is in heaven, forgive you your sins. — 11:26
And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked he was reputed. — 15:28

Saint Luke
[Missing in the DRB] Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. — 17:36
Now of necessity he was to release unto them one upon the feast day. — 23:17

**Saint John **
And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole, of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. — 5:4

Acts of the Apostles
And Philip said: If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. — 8:37
But it seemed good unto Silas to remain there; and Judas alone departed to Jerusalem. — 15:34
[Missing in the DRB] and we would have judged him according to our law. 7 But the chief captain Lysias came and with great violence took him out of our hands, 8 commanding his accusers to come before you. — 24:7
And when he had said these things, the Jews went out from him, having much reasoning among themselves. — 28:29

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. — 16:24

Now, since some translations include certain verses of these but not all, others exclude all and still others add almost every one, I’m confused. Is there anything online that provides an overview of which manuscripts include which verses? Could they all be glosses, such as is commonly thought of 1 John 5:7-8? Can anyone elaborate a bit? :slight_smile:


Wikipedia lists all the Codex manuscripts and exactly which verses are missing/added to each one, if that is what you mean.

You missed a few biggies:

The “he who has not sinned cast the first stone” is missing from the oldest gospel manuscripts that we have.

And of course, the last 12 verses from Mark’s gospel, from 16: 9-20, starting from when the women flee the tomb, is also not in early manuscripts.

Your mention of the 1John; 5:7-8 line is the one about the trinity, right?: “there are three witnesses in heaven: the father, the word, and the holy spirit…and these three are one.”
This is not found in any of the original Greek manuscripts, i believe.



There are plenty of theories about this and scholars have a standard practice of teaching that the oldest manuscripts on hand are closest to the original. In theory that sounds legitimate but in my opinion I think that has some weaknesses. I have a theory that the authors of the Bible wrote more than one copy of their accounts, probably multiple copies and some of them wrote them in more than one language. If you were going to write something so important and you lived in a time when the only way to distribute a a writing to the world wouldn’t you write multiple copies? I would. And I believe that among those additions and omissions found in Scripture, that it is a result of the same writers either being briefer in some sections while making a copy, and perhaps expanding more filling in other copies. That could very well be the case in simple variant readings of words. I could very well see my self telling a story a few times and vary some of my vocabulary but telling exactly the same story. Obviously years of scribal errors plays a factor but maybe some of these variant readings among manuscripts are from the original author.


In the case of the gospels at least, you have Wieland Willker’s An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels. It’s one of the most comprehensive things I know of available online.


WOW. :eek: That is one huge project. I’m not a scholar, and only beginning to learn Greek, but it sure is interesting. :slight_smile: Thanks!


At the beginning of the document on the Pericope Adulterae, it says,

Latest variant:
… and Jesus asked his mother to leave the place for a few minutes.
And then he said: “Let the one without sin cast the first stone”…

That is a joke, right?


I didn’t see it anywhere else in the document, but when I read that line, I was stunned. :eek:




patrick457: I think that some of the modern translations–those after the Confraternity and Knox for example–omit too many verses.

What verses that are commonly omitted by newer translations do you think should still be in the bible?


Professional scribes did not appear for the first three or four centuries and even thoe made a number of errors. Even the use of the printing press did not stop errors from being made. Look up the Sinner’s Bible as an example. The Catholic Encyclopedia has an excellent article on scribal errors. What is amazing is that the text in the major translations of the Bible is in more than 95% agreement. The unseen hand of God, maybe?


Question for Patrick, now that you have re-emerged for Easter.

In your marvelous diagram on the similarities between the synoptic Gospels, passages unique to Mark are at 3%, if I remember correctly.

If we assume that Mark was the earliest Gospel, and that the other two synoptic gospels worked off Mark, then can we assume the 3% that is unique is, in fact, a forgery that was added later?

And what are those unique passages in Mark?


In a perfect world I wish that every ‘extra’ verse and every variant thereof is included in a footnote, but that would make for a very bulky Bible. I haven’t got a specific passage in mind, but I’m perfectly fine with the format many Bibles have now - placing some of these disputed verses in parentheses or in footnotes. Of course I wouldn’t go so far as to simply omit them without comment, but to be fair, I don’t think there are that many Bibles which do that anyway.

No, it’s not mine - I got it off Wikipedia.

Believe me, there isn’t really that much special material in Mark.

The parable of the seed growing secretly (4:26-29)
The deaf-mute (7:31-37)
The blind man of Bethsaida (8:22-26)
Sayings on salt (9:49, 50b)
The young man in Gethsemane (14:51-52)

Little narrative asides in Mark embedded in passages shared by the other gospels but which the other gospels omit may also count as unique material. For example, Jesus’ relatives/companions thinking that He had gone crazy and trying to restrain Him (3:21), the comment that the grass was green in 6:39, or the mention of Simon of Cyrene being the father of Alexander and Rufus in 15:21. That’s just a few of them. Mark also likes to retain a few Aramaic words here and there (boanerges, talitha koum(i), ephphatha, korban, rabbouni), most of which Matthew and/or Luke decided to omit altogether.

Those who believe in Markan priority (not to be confused with the Q hypothesis: the Q theory does have Markan priority, but subscribing Markan priority does not necessarily mean believing in the existence Q) would actually say the opposite - Matthew and Luke deliberately omitted them for editorial reasons. They left out the little details to streamline the narrative, and in the case of the two healings, one, which features Jesus graphically curing the man using His saliva (folk medicine in the ancient world) and reciting the ‘exotic’ phrase ephphatha, might be construed as Jesus resorting to ‘magic’ (by omitting this episode, the resulting picture in Matthew and Luke is a Jesus who doesn’t resort to physical means of healing like other physicians or ‘miracle-workers’ did but simply touches people), while the other (“I see men as trees walking”) might be construed that Jesus failed to heal the man properly the first time. Some passages which show Jesus displaying emotions which might be construed negatively (for example, feeling compassion or anger at the leper in 1:41; asking for the name of a demon in 5:12; sighing when the Pharisees question Him in 8:12; becoming annoyed at His disciples in 10:14) are also redacted or omitted.


I think you are correct. I know when I go travelling and write up my diary entries later, I tend to update what I have originally written with new material or in a slightly different way to emphasise different occurrences. I think perhaps we are too used to standardised published books where each copy is identical and we apply our expectations back to a time where those expectations are not applicable.


Patrick, while you are talking about Mark vs. the other Synoptic Gospels, what do you think about this theory of origin that Karl Keating wrote a post about?


In short, Mark was written last as a harmony of Luke with Matthew. Plausible?


I never thought of it until I did an in-depth study of the Old Greek Septuagint of Daniel, and an author of a book on it talked about it and even used examples of artists and their paintings who paint multiple paintings of the same thing. I like what you said about how we can apply our expectations of what we are accustomed to on a time when distribution was much different. Also most of us live in places where one language is thr standard for everyone in the area, whereas in ancient times in the Middle east multiple languages were the norm and some of these authors could have very well wrote up their account in more than one language. That could settle the debate about whether the New Testament was originally written in Greek or Aramaic, maybe some of it was both. I know the Gospel of Mark has a lot of Aramaic idioms in the Greek version. I really dont think it has to be one way or the other when it comes to variant readings or versions.

Also people will bring up manuscript evidence supporting this or that reading and assume some readings are added later by a scribe and so on. But I dont think that is a guaranteed technique considering how old these manuscripts are and how long ago the original was written, because I am willing to bet only a small fraction of the 1st and 2nd century manuscripts have been discovered or whether the most ancient one still exist due to decay.


That’s the so-called Griesbach-Farmer theory (aka the two-gospel hypothesis). It was first developed by Lutheran pastor Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745-1812) in around 1783, and did gain acceptance from some members the so-called Tübingen school. (Henry Owen anticipated the idea, but it is Griesbach who really shaped it.) So for most of that time you had most Lutheran scholars accepting Griesbach’s theory, while most Catholic scholars continued to uphold the so-called Augustinian theory (Matthew, then Mark, then Luke, in that order). When the two-source hypothesis or the Q theory became predominant in the mid-19th century (then finally being given more or less its standard textbook form by B.H. Streeter in his The Four Gospels in 1924), Griesbach’s theory was ditched and mostly forgotten until American scholar William Farmer resurrected it in his book The Synoptic Problem in 1964. Around the same time (the mid-'70s), Dom Bernard Orchard also made a case for the theory on the Catholic side. Since then, the Griesbach theory has become the serious main alternative and competitor to the Q theory, mainly in America.

In England, meanwhile, an alternative theory by Austin Farrer (1904-1968) emerged in 1955. His model still proposed Markan priority but rendered Q unnecessary by postulating that Luke did know Matthew’s gospel to make use of it. (‘Q’ is needed in the two-source hypothesis to explain the similarities of Matthew and Luke, because it is thought that they could not have known each other’s gospels.) Unlike the Q hypothesis or the Griesbach-Farmer theory, however, the Farrer hypothesis is still a relatively minor opinion even today (although it is probably the most major among the various minor hypotheses on the synoptic gospels). It is not as well known outside the UK, or for that matter outside Oxford, where Farrer and another proponent, Michael Goulder (1927-2010), spent their professional careers. (Mark Goodacre, the most recent proponent of the theory, also studied in Oxford; according to him, almost every scholar present at Oxford in the '80s - Ed Sanders, Tom Wright, John Fenton, Eric Franklin - doubted the existence of Q. :p) Part of the problem is poor coverage, and part is because of the mistaken assumption among many people that Markan priority is equivalent to and identical with the Q hypothesis.

Basically, the emergence of these two (as well as a host of other) alternative theories shook the dogma; so whereas in the early 1970s scholars could still claim Markan priority and Q hypothesis as the majority belief and get away with it, by the 1980s this truism is no longer assuredly true. The problem is that this is mostly confined to the realm of academia: we laymen wouldn’t have any idea that there are scholars who doubt Q even existed (or even doubt Markan priority altogether).

I’ll be honest that I’m currently somewhere in between Farrer’s theory and a variant which still posits a third source (three-source hypothesis) - I’m a former Griesbachian - with this third source perhaps being the elusive ‘Hebrew’ logia of Matthew but I’m trying to keep an open mind as possible.


In my reading of theologians, what is usually attributed as a later addition just happens to coincide with what that theologian would rather prefer not to be part of the original.

Also regarding the order of the gospels, recently there was a repeat of the suggestion of St Luke’s gospel being constructed as a defence for Paul while he was in jail. Presumably this construct would be based on Matthew’s Gospel or a variation of it.



So no one really holds to the Augustinian theory any more? To be honest, things as this make me feel uncomfortable, since I would trust the Fathers more than modern-day scholars trying to reconstruct the order in which they were written. Isn’t the reason we find the Gospels arranged as they are in our Bibles because the Church canonised them that way, in agreement with Saint Augustine?


Cutler, there is also the question of whether the Gospels were written in a different order than when they were published.

Also if Luke and Mark worked together on their gospels then that also would complicate things. We know from Paul’s writings that Luke and Mark spent time together in the missionary travels.


Thanks for the thorough explanation, Patrick (as always)!

I don’t think that no one holds to the Augustinian theory anymore. Patrick only described two theories. He did not say that they were the only theories held today. I looked through the introduction to the four Gospels in the Ignatius Study New Testament and it gave four, including the the Griesbach and Farrer hypotheses, but also giving the Augustinian and the Two-Source Hypothesis, which it says is the majority opinion, and I would imagine it is the overwhelming majority if my experience is anything to go by. It seems like every popular account takes for granted Markan priority and the existence of a Q source.

If you want to know what is permitted for Catholics to believe, I would look through the documents of the Pontifical Bible Commission. There is undoubtedly something among them on the “Synoptic Question.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.