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Scribal Blunders

Transposition of Letters in John 5:39

Written by Ronald J. Gordon Published: April, 1997 ~ Last Updated: September, 2020 ©
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An entirely different word and meaning of a passage can be formed by the simple addition, omission, or transposition of a few letters. The result can totally depredate the original intention. In the following example under Figure 1, the ancient scribe of Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis (manuscript D) has unwittingly executed a glaring theological fiasco. A contributing factor to this kind of mistake is the fact that letters of most early manuscripts all ran together in one solid line. Mixing this together with a little inattentiveness or interruption and you easily produce an errant text. These same letters have been separated in Figure 2 so that the passage will be easier to read.

Figure 1

John 5:39 manuscript comparison

Figure 2

John 5:39 explained in separate words

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15