24. M. But your ancient MSS. and versions differ from one another so much that you have thousands of different readings in your Bibles. How can you be sure which is correct?

C. That shows how carefully we have collated MS. with MS. and version with version, noting even the varied spelling 1 of the same word in different MSS. But the result of all our investigations is that all the varied readings put together do not alter or render doubtful one single article in our creed.

25. M. How do you account for these various readings? Do they not prove that attempts were made to corrupt the text of the Bible?

C. Not at all; for, as I have said, they have not altered one single doctrine taught or one single precept given in the Bible. The variety of readings arose in different ways. The most usual cause was a mistake of the copyist, who often wrote from dictation. Another reason was that certain words were sometimes written and spelled in one way, sometimes in another. Occasionally also, when a note was written in the margin of a MS., a later scribe in one or two instances mistook it for a passage that had been omitted by mistake, and hence inserted it in the text of the copy he made. But we have so many copies that we are easily

1 The nature of the various readings can be easily shown from Nestle's, Dr. Weymouth's, or any other good edition of the Greek N.T.

able to detect such mistakes now, and distinguish the few verses which are at all doubtful.

26. M. Can you mention any which have thus been pointed out in the New Testament?

C. There are only four passages of any importance which we know to be doubtful. These are, in our Greek Texts and in our Revised English Version, and in some others, either omitted or printed separately for this very reason. The doubtful passages are:—(1) Mark xvi. 9-20. In some ancient MSS. and versions these verses are not found: hence it is not quite certain that they were written by St. Mark. They may have been written by some very early 1 scribe as a note at the end of his copy of St. Mark's Gospel, and afterwards mistaken for part of it. Or they may have formed part of the Gospel, but the piece of parchment upon which they were written may have been torn off before the oldest MSS. were copied. At any rate we are not so certain of them as we are of all the rest of the Gospel 2. (2) John v. 3. The words "waiting for the troubling of the water," and the whole of verse 4 are considered to be an ancient marginal note incorporated into the text by mistake, since they are not found in the oldest MSS. and versions. (3) John vii. 53-viii. 11. These verses also are not found in the oldest MSS. and versions. Hence many scholars suppose that they were originally a marginal note only, though the incident

1 Vide Nestle, p. 142.
  2 Vide § 62.