Omission or Addition?

After prior discussions about adding to or taking away from the Bible, it gives one pause in considering footnotes in some translations, which effectively note that a certain phrase or verse is “not found in all manuscripts.”

Consider the Lord’s Prayer.  The end is one such example: “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

Or when the disciples can’t cast out a demon and Jesus says, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  The footnote adds “…and fasting.”  Which is it?  Prayer or prayer and fasting?

The largest such passage is the conclusion to Mark’s gospel, where the last 12 verses are not included in all manuscripts.

So is it an error to include them or an error to exclude them?  In these, and all other instances, I think that it is wise to include them.  Here is why.

As a writer, I often revise my own work to improve it, such as adding something that I forgot or to correct imprecise wording.  Sometimes this occurs after it its initial publication.  It is likely that Biblical writers did the same.

As an editor I sometimes change a writer’s words to clarify what is unclear or confusing.  Scribes who made copies of the Bible may have done the same, albeit with much more care and consideration.

So I am not concerned with minor differences between the ancient manuscripts; the overall message remains unaltered and the additional text adds clarity and fullness.

[See Matthew 6:9-13, Mark 9:29, and Mark 16:8–20.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at