ARE THERE ANY COPYISTS' ERRORS IN THE HOLY BIBLE?
By Moses LemuelRaj
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2Ti 3:16).
"No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2Pe 1:20,21).
These verses above clearly tell us that the Scriptures are God-breathed and are not fables written by men, and we read "it was impossible for God to lie" (Heb 6:18). Therefore there cannot be any errors in the Holy Bible, and it is perfect historically, geographically, scientifically, grammatically and numerically, and "every word of God is pure" (Pr 30:5).
This is acknowledged by almost all genuine believers of the Word of God. But some of them say that only the "original autographs" are inspired and the copies of the Scripture got corrupted in the course of time due to accumulation of copyists' errors, and therefore the Scriptures we have today, whether in original tongues or translations, are not completely error free (Please see the notes for Jer 52:12,22,25,31 in the NIV Study Bible). Neither do they agree the fact that, a faithful translation of Scriptures by able and godly men from an error free copy of scriptures in the original tongue, preserved divinely, is equally inspired Word. But still they talk about the "general accuracy" of the Scriptures, of course with its copyists' errors included which, they say, do not matter much, and must be ignored. But that would essentially mean that the Word which says "every word of God is pure" is irrelevant today. Would not God who gave His holy Word preserve it from corruption?
Our Lord Jesus Christ said : "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Mt 5:18). "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them (i.e., words), O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever" (Ps 12:6,7). Though there may be certain copies of scriptures which are corrupted, God has definitely preserved His Word in some other copies and made them available for God's people, and God fearing translators. He has preserved His Word "from this generation" of textual critics like Westcott and Hort (who brought out a Greek NT in 1881 from which the RV, RSV, NIV etc. were translated), who believe more in their methods of "scientific textual criticism" than the Word of God.
There are certain verses in the Scriptures which can be seen in two different books of the Bible, when compared agree almost verbatim, but apparently seem to differ and contradict each other in things like number of days, cubits etc. These, the textual critics say, are no doubt perfect examples of copyists' errors. This paper seeks to show that such verses do not contradict each other, and that those are not a result of copyists' errors but are perfectly correct. All Scripture verses are quoted from the KJAV of 1611 because of its unique and absolute accuracy.
Let's consider these two verses:
"And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem" (2Ki 25:8).
"Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem" (Jer 52:12).
This must be a copyists' error, they say, because in one case it is the seventh day and in the other it is the tenth, and therefore BOTH CANNOT BE CORRECT. But after a careful examination of these two passages we can find that Nebuzaradan came unto Jerusalem on the seventh day, and came into Jerusalem on the tenth day. It took him three days to enter into Jerusalem for some reason, which the Scriptures do not mention. Thus we see that these verses BOTH ARE CORRECT, and they are not the result of any copyists' error, for God "shalt preserve them from this generation for ever".
We shall consider a few more such verses:
"And the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work" (2Ki 25:17).
"And a chapiter of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass" (Jer 52:22).
The "error" here is the difference in height of the chapiter in these two passages. In one case it seems to be three cubits and in the other five cubits. It can be easily observed that "wreathen work (or network) and pomegranates" are upon the chapiter. Now in the first case, the verse tells us that the height of the chapiter is three cubits (notice the semi colon), and also mentions that there are wreathen work and pomegranates upon it which are made of brass. In the second case the verse tells us that the height of the chapiter with network and pomegranates is five cubits. That is, in the first case three cubits height is without network and pomegranates. Both are correct again.
"And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king's presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city" (2Ki 25:19).
"He took also out of the city an eunuch, which had the charge of the men of war; and seven men of them that were near the king's person, which were found in the city; and the principal scribe of the host, who mustered the people of the land; and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the midst of the city" (Jer 52:25).
There are five men in the first verse and seven men in the second. But see the difference, the five were in the king's presence, and the seven in the second verse were near the king's person. Five of the seven that were more intimate to the king are mentioned in the first case, and all the seven in the second case. There's no error here whatsoever, and both are correct.
"And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison" (2Ki 25:27).
"And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison" (Jer 52:31).
There are two things that must be noticed in these two verses. First, the lifting up of head (may be a legal procedure), and second, bringing actually out of the prison. The second one follows the first one. In the first verse, the twenty seventh day refers to the event of bringing Jehoiachin out of prison. "Did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison" means, bringing him out of the prison by the procedure/method of lifting up the head. In the second verse, twenty fifth day refers to the event of lifting up of head, "lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah (on 25th), and brought him forth out of prison (on 27th)". This is God's Word. How can we dare to say that there are errors in it, while there are none?
"Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city; Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two. The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two. The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five. The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve. The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five. The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore. The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two. The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three. The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two" (Ezr 2:1-12).
"And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein, These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city; Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, I say, of the men of the people of Israel was this; The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two. The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two. The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two. The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand and eight hundred and eighteen. The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five. The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore. The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight. The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight. The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and two" (Ne 7:5-17).
In these two passages from Ezra 2:1-12 and Ne 7:5-17, we find certain differences in the numbers. We see that the children of Arah were 775 in one case and 652 in the other. Similarly, the children of Pahathmoab were 2812 in one place and 2818 in the other. We have the numbers 945 and 845 for the children of Zattu, 642 and 648 for the children of Bani / Binnui, 623 and 628 for the children of Bebai, and 1222 and 2322 for the children of Azgad. We can find some more differences in the subsequent verses of these passages. These passages prove, the critics would definitely say, that men indeed make mistakes and hence we can not believe that there are no copyists' errors in the Holy Bible. They are true partially. These passages indeed prove that men make mistakes, but no where does these passages give any proof that they contain copyists' errors which are the results of such mistakes. Let us see why there are difference in numbers. In Ezra 2:1 we read, "Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity". This is God's Word, and the sentence which says "these are the children" is giving the numbers with all authority. Therefore ALL numbers in Ezra 2:1-12 and subsequent verses are the ACTUAL numbers. Does it mean then that the numbers in Nehemiah are INCORRECT ? The answer is YES. Then does it not mean that such INCORRECT numbers in Nehemiah are copyists' errors? The answer is NO, they are NOT copyists' errors. How? Well let's see what Nehemiah actually says. "I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein, these are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity." It is very clear from this that Nehemiah is NOT telling us the ACTUAL numbers, but he is just giving us a faithful record of what was written in the register of genealogy by the inspiration of God. There are NO mistakes and NO errors in copying in his faithful record of that which was written in the register of genealogy because it (the record) is God-breathed , but THERE ARE mistakes in the very register of genealogy, which is a work of men, and it is NOT God-breathed. Therefore these two passages prove that men indeed make mistakes as they did while making a register of the genealogies, and therefore any mistakes including copyists' errors can creep in to such works. But these two passages also prove that "holy men of God" DID NOT make mistakes of any kind "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". Also God DID NOT allow mistakes to creep in into the Scriptures even in the subsequent copies by His divine providence, which He preserved for us, for "O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever" (Ps 12:7); while some other copies like the Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus etc., (which are being branded as "The Originals" by "Scholars" like Westcott and Hort, Nestle and Aland etc.,) indeed got corrupted deliberately around third century by Gnostics and such other heretics who wanted to distort the Word to prove their heresies.( Readers may refer to "Examination of Modern New Testament Text Criticism - Theory and Methods version 2.0"By: Jeffrey A. Young Ph.D.).
"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man" (Ps 118:8).
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