Revelation 22:18-19: For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
These words occur at the very conclusion of our Bible, almost the last verses of Scripture. They are extremely important and carry huge repercussions for those who add or take away anything from the Book. It is God's Word and we have no right or authority to add to it or take anything away from it. If God gave us His Word (and He did), if we add to it or subtract from it, we make it something other than God's Word.
All Bibles are based on one of two texts, which we will refer to here as the Majority Text and the Minority Text. The term Majority Text is used because some 90 percent of all of the approximately 5,500 manuscripts that exist support it. Only five percent of all existing manuscripts support the Minority Text, while the other five percent are neutral, supporting both or neither.
If we examine the Bibles that are based on each of the two texts, we will find a large number of differences. Almost all of these differences involve content that is found in the Majority Text versions that is missing from the Minority Text versions. There are only two possible explanations for this:
1. Something was added in the Majority Text, or
2. Something was taken away in the Minority Text.
Either one would be a violation of Revelation 22:18 and 19.
Those who endorse the Majority Text say that heretics deleted certain portions that they disagreed with or that they knew were damaging to their own beliefs. If this occurred, it would be a wilful deletion of the contents of the Word of God, a very serious charge.
Those who endorse the Minority Text say that overzealous Christians took the writings of the authors of the New Testament books and added to them things that they felt should have been included. Again, if this occurred, it would have been a wilful addition to the contents of the Word of God, a very serious charge.
So which happened? I will provide two separate arguments, both of which I believe lead to the conclusion that the Majority Text is the preserved Word of God and the Minority Text is not.
In light of Revelation 22:18 and 19, how likely would zealous Christians have been to tinker with the actual text of the Word of God? It seems to me that they would have been very careful to preserve the text rather than to alter it in any way. Compare that to the likelihood that a heretic might make changes of one kind or another, given that a heretic would have little regard for warnings such as those in Revelation 22:18 and 19. I admit this is not proof, but an appeal to common sense. But common sense does strongly favour the work of a heretic rather than an overzealous Christian in producing the differences in the text.
So what about actual proof? It exists!
If we were to study the manuscripts on which the Majority Text is based, we will find no evidence of tampering, no deletions, additions, or alterations in the text. In fact, there is a wonderful consistency from manuscript to manuscript, with variations almost non-existent. Those variations that occur are miniscule, resulting in no difference in meaning or content.
The same cannot be said about the manuscripts that support the Minority Text. Not only are those manuscripts inconsistent with those that support the Majority Text, but they are inconsistent with each other.
Let's take a closer look at the two primary manuscripts on which the Minority Text is based: the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, which both date back to the 4th century. The word "codex" indicates they are not scrolls but books with leaves. They are both in good physical condition, and are printed on vellum, some form of animal skin, either lamb or antelope. But their content is not so good, to say the least. I will have more to say on these two manuscripts later, but for now, let's just look at how they have been corrupted. Highly qualified scholars have examined these manuscripts and we will look at what some of them have had to say.
Barry Burton wrote a book called Let's Weigh the Evidence, in which he makes the following observations about the Codex Sinaiticus:
The Sinaiticus is a manuscript that was found in 1844 in a trash pile in St. Catherine's Monastery near Mt. Sinai, by a man named Mr. Tischendorf. It contains nearly all of the New Testament plus it adds the 'Shepherd of Hermes' and the 'Epistle of Barnabas' to the New Testament. The Sinaiticus is extremely unreliable, proven by examining the manuscript itself. John Burgon spent years examining every available manuscript of the New Testament. He writes about Sinaiticus...
'On many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through very carelessness. Letters, words or even whole sentences are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament.
On nearly every page of the manuscript there are corrections and revisions, done by 10 different people. Some of these corrections were made about the same time that it was copied, but most of them were made in the 6th and 7th century. Phillip Mauro, a brilliant lawyer who was admitted to the bar of the US Supreme Court in April 1892, wrote a book called "Which Version" in the early 1900s. He writes concerning the Sinaiticus: 'From these facts, therefore, we declare: first that the impurity of the Codex Sinaiticus, in every part of it, was fully recognized by those who were best acquainted with it, and that from the very beginning until the time when it was finally cast aside as worthless for any practical purpose.'
Another scholar, Dr. Samuel Gipp, in his book An Understandable History of the Bible, also comments on the Codex Sinaiticus:
One of the MSS is called Sinaiticus and is represented by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph. This MS from all outward appearances looks very beautiful. It is written in book form (codex) on vellum. It contains 147 1/2 leaves. The pages are 15" by 13 1/2" with four columns of 48 lines per page. It contains many spurious books such as the 'Shepherd of Hermes,' the 'Epistle of Barnabas' and even the Didache.
The great Greek scholar, Dr Scrivener, points this out in his historic work A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus. He speaks of correctional alterations made to the MS: 'The Codex is covered with such alterations... brought in by at least ten different revisers, some of them systematically spread over every page, others occasional or limited to separated portions of the MSS, many of these being contemporaneous with the first writer, but the greater part belonging to the sixth or seventh century.
Although produced in the 4th century, the Codex Vaticanus was discovered in 1481 in the Vatican library in Rome. Like the Sinaiticus, this codex is full of omissions, insertions, and amendments. Dr. Gipp, mentioned earlier, has the following to say about Vaticanus:
This codex omits many portions of Scripture vital to Christian doctrine. Vaticanus omits Genesis 1.1 through Genesis 46:28; Psalms 106 through 138; Matthew 16:2,3; Romans 16:24; the Pauline Pastoral Epistles; Revelation; and everything in Hebrews after 9:14.
It seems suspicious indeed that a MS possessed by the Roman Catholic church omits the portion of the book of Hebrews which exposes the 'mass' as totally useless (Please read Hebrews 10:10-12). The 'mass' in conjunction with the false doctrine of purgatory go hand-in-hand to form a perpetual money making machine for Rome. Without one or the other, the Roman Catholic Church would go broke! It also omits portions of the Scripture telling of the creation (Genesis), the prophetic details of the crucifixion (Psalm 22), and, of course, the portion which prophesies of the destruction of Babylon (Rome), the great whore of Revelation chapter 17.
Vaticanus, though intact physically, is found to be in poor literary quality. Dr. Martin declares, 'B' exhibits numerous places where the scribe has written the same word or phrase twice in succession. Dr. J. Smythe states, 'From one end to the other, the whole manuscript has been travelled over by the pen of some... scribe of about the tenth century.' If Vaticanus was considered a trustworthy text originally, the mass of corrections and scribal changes obviously render its testimony highly suspicious and questionable.
The Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts, which make up less than one percent of the existing ancient manuscripts, differ significantly from the Received Text. Vaticanus omits at least 2,877 words; it adds 536 words; it substitutes 935 words; it transposes 2,098 words; and it modifies 1,132 words; making a total of 7,578 verbal divergences from the Received Text. Sinaiticus is an even worse corruption, having almost 9,000 divergences from the Received Text.
In fact, these two manuscripts do not agree with each other. Bible scholar Barry Burton notes that the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts disagree with each other more than 3,000 times in the Gospels alone!
Given the lack of respect that heretics would have for the content of Holy Writ, the presence of actual evidence that heretics did delete material from the original texts, and the presence of extensive evidence that the Minority Text manuscripts were heavily edited and altered, it is easy to believe that the Minority Text lacks material that was in the original texts.
Given the obvious reluctance of devoted Christians to tamper with Holy Writ, and the unblemished condition of manuscripts that support the Majority Text, and given the wonderful harmony and absence of disagreement among the thousands of manuscripts that support the Majority text, it is difficult to believe that overzealous Christians added material that was not in the original texts.