I noticed a curious thing tonight at bible talk.  One of the passages we were asked to look at was Mark 11:22 – 25.  I read a little further and noticed that there is no verse 26.  Chapter eleven jumps from verse 25 to 27.  What happened to verse 26?


There is a textual variant in the Greek manuscripts.  The great majority of Greek manuscripts include this verse, but all the oldest manuscripts (such as Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus) do NOT include this verse.  Many Bibles have Mark 11:26 in brackets.  It is [But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father i heaven forgive your wrongdoing.] Probably a scribe added this verse in order to make Mark 11 agree with Matthew 18:35.  Such attempts by scribes to improve the text, of course, never actually improves it.  The reason for the verse numbering is that back in the 1600s when these were being added, the only available Greek manuscripts were later ones which are not of as good a quality.  Besides, the Latin Vulgate, which was by far the most read Bible at the time also contained this verse.  It is too late to change the numbering, so we are stuck with Mark 11:26 which almost certainly was not in the original.

This is a fairly typical example of the kind of errors that are found in our Greek manuscripts.  First of all, in this case it is quite easy for scholars to determine the likely original.  Second, because this verse is in Matthew anyway, there is really no important Christian teaching which is affected by including or excluding this verse.

John Oakes

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