3 December 2022


 There is a Catholic site on the Internet which, in the last day or two, has published a piece on a 'verse' which, they argue, has been deliberately left out of modern translations of the Bible.

People who read this might easily get the impression that we have here yet another example of a trendy, Modernist, Bergoglian plot to subvert the text of Scripture.

In fact, that site has got the whole business wrong. I explained the 'problem' in a piece here on my Blog on 10/10/2022.

As a general rule, I think it is a good idea not to go on about subjects about which one knows nothing. It just makes one look silly.


√Čamonn said...

The blogpost in question is here.

Jesse said...

I assume that the offending piece the one linked below. It is about the deletion in modern editions and versions of Matt. 17:21, which is regarded as a probable contamination from Mark 9:29.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dar Father. O.T., but I wonder what you think of this?

The WJC has prioritised interfaith engagement in recent decades, focusing on intensifying ties between world Jewry and the Catholic Church. In a further step towards co-operation, Lauder announced the creation of a WJC office in the Vatican


I know Sun Tzu said keep your enemies closer but this is ridiculous...

Will this be his last act of perfidy?

Doubt it

David J Critchley said...

Father, I agree that Matt 17:21 is likely to be an interpolation: it does not fit the context and it is an obvious attempt to align the paragraph on its Marcan equivalent.

I am less convinced by the argument that "and by fasting" is an interpolation in Mark 9:29. True, the words are not present in Sinaiticus ante correctionem or in Vaticanus. On the other hand, the ICC commentary by Ezra P Gould says "an evident gloss ... one of the things that a later asceticism imported into the spiritual teaching of Jesus." I detect a whiff of the argument, "Jesus' teaching was pure and spiritual, while the early Christians had all sorts of crazy ideas about things like fasting, which we sophisticated moderns have outgrown. Therefore any reference to fasting represents a corruption of the Gospel, not its original form." That, I suggest, does not constitute textual criticism. Housman would have put it more graphically, I think. A case perhaps for a marginal note, Some ancient authorities add ...

Grant Milburn said...


Matthew 17 verse 21.

My Greek NT omits this from its main txt, but the footnotes indicate that the ancient authorities are divided: B and others omit it, but C and others like it, as do Ambrose and Augustine.

The Vulgate, Douay and Knox include it (numbered as verse 20). RSV relegates it to a footnote: "Other ancient authorities insert verse 21..."

Then I checked some of the Austronesian translations, having spent most of my life in the Southern Islands:

The Indonesian Bible (TB version) includes it in the main text, but within square brackets. Toba Batak and Maori both include the verse.

Mark 9 verse 29.

My Greek NT omits "and fasting" from its main text, but the footnotes show that once again B and C (among others) are divided on the issue. Vulgate, Douay and Knox all include the phrase. RSV puts it in a footnote. Indonesian omits, Batak and Maori include.

(Why should Gould be so suspicious of the notion of fasting? Judaism had and still has a tradition of fasting, inherited by Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Anglicanism and much of Protestantism.)

David J Critchley said...


There is a deeper issue, which may affect lots of ancient readings. We all know that the stories about Christ circulated orally for a generation or two before the evangelists wrote them down. Doubtless minor variations crept in during this period. It would not be surprising if, during the period immediately following the writing down of the Gospels, when the stories still circulated both in written forms and in independent oral forms, the occasional scribe copied out a story in the way he was used to hearing it, rather than following his exemplar meticulously. It would not be surprising, either, if the occasional bishop said to a scribe, "What Christ actually said was ... You had better correct the text."

Now, if I am a Phd student studying Matthew's use of the aorist tense I obviously need Matthew's exact words. On the other hand, if I am a bishop authorising a text for use in churches, do I insist on Matthew's exact words, or do I give weight to those in the ranks of the very early church who thought that, on the basis of the traditions as they had heard them, Matthew needed a bit of judicious editing here and there?

I can imagine a heavenly proofreader, perhaps, saying "Holy Spirit, I am just working through Matthew. I am not sure that this bit is completely right. Would it help if you gave a couple of copyists a nudge in the right direction?"

Simon North said...

"We all know that the stories about Christ circulated orally for a generation or two before the evangelists wrote them down." No, we don't know that - because nothing could be further from the truth.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. I have tried to answer this putative problem of Matthew on my crummy blog


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father, I am wary that giving an inch on interpolation will mean they will take a mile on Marcan priority.


Having been born in the piemonte region of Vermont, I was learnt that when it is not necessary to change it is necessary not to change.

Thanks for your patience with this autodidact.