IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
And Robin Walker gets a free book for asking it.
Here’s her question:
I was doing a fast for three weeks last month. In one of my books on fasting it had a scripture, Matthew 17: 20-21. Interestingly enough some of my Bibles have blatantly eliminated the entire verse 21, which to me is the key to the entire story: “However, this kind [of demon] does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
It [the Bible] actually goes from verse 20 to 22….
I find it disturbing that people have taken out pertinent information from the Word…. why would we start taking out this kind of important information that God originally gave us?
Short answer many scholars would suggest: God didn’t give us verse 21.
Some well-meaning dweeb of an editor did.
Because editors are like that. They say what they think we should have said.
Imagine the chutzpah it would have taken to put words in the mouth of Jesus.
The names of some editors I know are coming to mind.
Here’s the quote from Jesus…his answer to why the disciples couldn’t exorcise a demon. I’ve put the controversial verse 21 in dark type.
“I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (New King James Version).
Here’s what’s going on, Robin. We don’t have the original copy of the Book of Matthew.
We don’t have the original copy of any book in the Bible.
We don’t even have even a shred of the original copy of any book in the Bible.
What we have are ancient copies of copies of books of the Bible.
We’ve found a variety of ancient copies of some books—or parts of books—Matthew included.
Scholars consider some ancient copies more reliable than others.
There are several ancient copies of Matthew that include verse 21. There are also several that don’t.
Most scholars seem to feel that Matthew without verse 21 is more reliable.
The reason. It’s hard to imagine someone deleting these words of Jesus from the original copy.
On the other hand, it’s not too hard to imagine an editor dweeb adding it. Especially if the editor had read what many say was the first of the Gospels—Mark. If he saw it there, he may have decided to insert it into Matthew’s version of the same story, assuming Matthew overlooked it: “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, NKJV).
Scholars seem to think Matthew left it out on purpose because he wanted to focus on faith, not on fasting.
So, though you might be bummed that your key verse isn’t in Matthew, you can find it in Mark.
Speaking of Mark and deleted Bible verses, you might also notice that about half of the last chapter in Mark gets edited out of some Bibles. When Bible translators get to that chapter—16—some give you two choices for an ending: the Short Version (8 verses) or the Long Version (20 verses).
Heads up: the Short Version is the one most scholars say is the reliable one.
Why? Let’s save that for another Question of the Week.