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The story about Jesus forgiving an adulterous women is not in the original copy, but that's the version we most commonly have. So how does that make the Bible inerrant, given that many important parts were added or removed?

Further reading

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Are there two versions of the end of Mark in most Bibles? – Peter Turner Nov 21 '11 at 14:38
The issue is if we don't even know whether a verse should be there. It should show that the bible is not perfectly preserved. – Jim Thio Nov 22 '11 at 3:04
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The belief in biblical inerrancy does not require that the copies or translations of the Bible be completely inerrant. It is generally accepted that:

(1) Copies are subject to human error

(2) Translations are subject to human interpretation

Biblical inerrancy is the belief that the original manuscripts are inerrant. Unfortunately, we do not have many original manuscripts (if we have any), so we study the copies that we have, compare them, and try to determine the text of the original manuscripts. We may not be able to do so perfectly, and areas of ambiguity are often noted in modern Bibles (John 8, Mark 16).

However, it stands to reason that we have a reasonably accurate representation of the original manuscripts, with the essentials preserved.

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Excellent answer. It might also be worth noting that in none of the textual discrepancies like the one noted ones in John 8 or Mark 16 do any theological points depend on one version of the copy or another. No understanding of God or salvation or Christian life hinges on a possibly disputed bit of the text. – Caleb Nov 21 '11 at 16:09
Well many of the passages that change are the important ones. Just look at we even have a polytheism there. I do not even know if YHWH is the same with El Elyon (most high) or whether El Elyon is YHWH's boss. – Jim Thio Nov 22 '11 at 2:49
@JimThio: If you have a question about polytheism in the Jewish/Chrsitian Bible, that would probably be best as a separate question, not a comment on this unrelated one. – Flimzy Nov 22 '11 at 18:38
Yea. I get it. It's good answer nevertheless +1. I am just trying to point out how verses that are added or removed are important. In fact, that's how our religious life is so much different from ancient christians or ancient jews. – Jim Thio Nov 25 '11 at 11:28
However, it's only half of the doctrine of ineracy. Inerrant people believe that 1 the original is perfect, 2. it's preserved perfectly till now. As the most official bible translations itself change all the time, they can't all be the same with the original. Also in many important cases, we don't know what the original said. – Jim Thio Nov 25 '11 at 11:30

We do not have original manuscripts of any of the books in the New Testament. What we do have is thousands of copies in various languages found in a wide variety of places. Nearly 30 000 extant manuscripts of various parts of the bible exist.

We also have vast early church correspondence. One church would write to another and quote a verse and warn of other heretical teachings that where prevalent at the time. This is also a priceless accounts for the people who do new translations of the bible.

The point you raise about the woman caught in adultery. As far as I know that part is in the texts it is just lacking in the church correspondence, but not in the actual texts.

It has been theorized that the early church fathers thought that Jesus was somehow condoning adultery and that is why they did not mention that passages, but the textual evidence for the passage remains.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

The link said that most bible translation has a note that it's not on earlier copy – Jim Thio Nov 21 '11 at 13:15
Your answer doesn't answer the question. If part of the bible is added latter and we don't know whether it's part of the original or not, then how come we say bible is inerrant? – Jim Thio Nov 21 '11 at 13:15
The thousands of manuscripts tells us what should be in the bible. Their is so many in existence and they are so accurate that the chances of someone changing one to influence what gets in the bible is remote. It is the science called literary criticism. The people who translate the bible take the many manuscripts discern their meaning and translate them keeping in mind the audience. Their is not only one copy that the translators hinge on but many. – Neil Meyer Nov 21 '11 at 15:26
There are still no references or sources cited. If this issue is not fixed soon, this answer may be deleted. – El'endia Starman Jul 5 '14 at 0:07

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