You might be surprised when you’re reading the New Testament and a verse disappears into thin air. For example, if you are reading Acts 8:36, you would expect Acts 8:37 to follow, but oddly, 8:38 is the next verse. What happened to Acts 8:37?
Or try to look up Romans 16:24. Or Matthew 17:21.
In fact, there’s a whole list of Bible verses that have been, er, excised from modern editions. Why?
The versification system that we use in English is based on the King James Bible (and some precursors) that relied on the Greek “Textus Receptus” (relying for the NT mainly on Erasmus’ edition) while modern translations are based on more recent text-critical work. The Textus Receptus represents a Byzantine text type, but the newer critical editions are based on an Alexandrian text type. The Alexandrian text is now generally regarded as more accurate.
So our versification system is based on the King James, which is based on the Byzantine text, but our translations are based on the Alexandrian text. This means we’re using a verse system that does not line up with our text and it creates, well, holes. Even the Nova Vulgata, the Catholic Church’s official edition omits the verses.
Then are these omitted verses Scripture? Well, not exactly, but they were regarded as Scripture by many Christians for ages. Fortunately, most of them are not crucial verses.
Just a little piece of Bible-reader knowledge that will prevent you from calling the publisher in outrage when you find that a verse is missing from your Bible!
I just had an interesting book purchasing experience. I wanted to buy the famous Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce Metzger. But when it came time to make my purchase, I could not figure out which edition to buy. There seem to be three different editions, but now I think there are actually only two.
1. First Edition of the Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce Metzger, published in 1971.
2. Section Edition of the Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, published in 1994. ISBN: 3438060108.
The 2nd edition is, of course, the best one to use. However, some people on the internet complain that it omits some information from the first edition. On Amazon and other online retailers, you’ll also find a 2006 edition by Hendrickson Publishers called “second revised edition” or the “ancient greek edition.” It also has a different ISBN:1598561642. I searched and searched and could find no academic reviews of this 2006 edition. I also looked at the electronic versions of this resource for the big Bible software programs (BibleWorks, Logos, Accordance) and they all use the 1994 edition. So, as far as I can tell, the 1994 edition is the last, final, definitive edition. The difference in ISBN’s comes from the fact that the 343*** edition is leather bound and the 157*** edition is hardback. So, I bought the 1994 edition since I like leather more than cardboard.
UPDATE: Well, Amazon said it was 1994, but it was actually 2005. It is the Metzger/Ehrman Fourth edition. I also found a very important book review of this 4th edition. I printed it out and am keeping it in the book as a reminder of the changes Ehrman made to Metzger’s work–some good, some bad. The review can be found here: Daniel Wallace, Review of The Text of the New Testament, JETS 49 (2006) 821-24.