How the bible has been altered over the centuries

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Recently, Mission Kaali made a rebuttal video to a rebuttal video to the video “Will All Christians Go to Heaven” . The video is made by one Tamizh Christian, an an amateur Christian apologist who has also made this video in Tamil, which we also rebutted. In our rebuttal to this fellow’s video, I talk about certain bible verses that are interpolations:

What is interpolation

You can watch the full rebuttal to this fellow’s rebuttal here:

Mission Kaali responds to Thamizh Christian English video

There will be more, which will only be seen as successful amongst other amateur Christian apologists.  Even so, we welcome this engagement, as we can all learn something new together.  Including about the art of bible interpolation.

So what does interpolation mean? The best definition comes from

Bible interpolation or Bible redaction is the art of adding words, phrases, or, entire sentences (depending on punctuation) to the Bible

Over the years the bible books, especially the new testament, has been added to many years after the original manuscripts were written.

One example of an interpolation Tamizh Christian inadvertently brings up in the video is Mathew 28:19-20, where Jesus (who came back from the dead) told his disciples to go to all nations and spread his message.  This is what is called the great commission.  That is one example of an interpolation.  Christian scholars and apologists, if they acknowledge these verses are interpolations, will argue that the words “in the name of the father, son and holy spirit” were added, but the rest of the verse still stands.  If the bible is supposed to be the inerrant word of god (which is what Christians claim most of the time unless it is inconvenient to do so), then how can we trust the entire verse or verses from Matthew 28 are the original verses? How can we trust that indeed Jesus (the zombie, or ghost) commanded his disciples to go to all the nations and convert them? One should keep in mind that the gospel of Matthew was actually written after the gospel of Mark, which itself is full of interpolations.  So it is possible that the book of Matthew copied from the book of Mark.

Another set of verses Tamizh Christian brings up next is Mark 16:15-16.  This is what it says:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

He foolishly brings this up as an example of verses that are NOT interpolations.  That is not the case.  In earlier manuscripts of the first gospel written, Mark is said to have ended at verse 8.  It was later manuscripts, which were translated from the original manuscripts written in Greek and Ethiopian (Amharic), that added verses 9-20.  And it was only at the Council of Trent where these verses were decided on to be included as official canon. Even Christian scholars acknowledge in later bible translations (such as the New International Version) that Mark 16:9-20 were added later.

There are many examples of interpolations in multiple books of the new testament.  The bible has been added to, altered, modified, mistranslated and forged over the years that it is unclear of what the original manuscripts wished to convey.

How do Christian apologists and scholars rationalize the question of interpolations?

There are many ways Christian apologists can rationalize the problem of bible interpolations.  One claim that Christian apologists make is that the various copies of manuscripts that later came to make up the new testament of the bible were divinely inspired.  And that it is this god yahweh’s plan that the various manuscript writers would copy and add on to the text, saying that this god did not want to intervene supernaturally.  How convenient, considering at other times Christian apologists and scholars will claim the bible is the inerrant word of this god. 

Christian apologists and scholars will also claim that there are many early manuscripts, at least 23000, that show that those interpolated verses were part of the original texts.  Not quite.  In fact, there aren’t many earlier manuscripts and the few that are there are poor copies of each other. In addition, more Greek manuscripts actually started appearing after the 9th century, which marks the start of the middle ages.

As we said in the video, this fellow who we rebutted has not proved anything.  All he has done is raise more questions neither he, nor other Christian scholars and apologists can answer easily.  Sure, they may answer confidently that, despite the legitimate doubts raised about the reliability of their scripture, the bible is divinely inspired or the inerrant word of god.  But their assertion is no longer enough to convince people.  Except other Christians who are looking for any reason to hang on to what little faith they have.

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