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During bible study I noticed that Acts 8:37 was missing from my bible. Verse 36 goes straight onto verse 38. Some cursory Google searches show that this happens in the NIV but not the KJV.

Is there some controversy with the verse? A translation error? Hidden conspiracy?

Are there other verses of the bible like this? What is the story here.

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There are at least three other verses that are missing from the NIV, one of which is John 5:4. In most, if not all cases, they are left out because various methods of analysis indicate that it was added at a later date (years later). I've got another project I'm working on, otherwise I'd develop this into an answer. –  El'endia Starman Jun 4 '12 at 0:06
Exactly - as more manuscript evidence is found, some verses can be shown to be later editions. Check out Bruce Metzger's Critical Appartus for a full listing. –  Affable Geek Jun 4 '12 at 1:00
Hidden conspiracy? That's a bit of a stretch. It was most likely a side margin notation that was later included in the text itself. No conspiracy. No controversy. No translation error. –  Narnian Sep 26 '13 at 12:14
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

It is important to understand that we do not have an "original copy" of any book of the Bible. What we have are copies of copies of copies... (manuscripts), from which "Textual Critics" seek to ascertain the original wording. It is the original wording that most Bible scholars hold to be perfect and inspired by God.

Many modern Christians view "The Bible" that is sitting on their shelves as the perfect, exact word of the living God, but this doctrine is a bit off. What is sitting on your shelf is an English rendition of a particular translator's interpretation of the group of manuscripts he studied when writing his translation. (NOTE: The Bible on your shelf is completely sufficient for understanding God's message to us in 99.99% of cases.)

The books of the Bible were not originally divided into verses - this happened around the 16th century. This was a period in time when a very limited set of manuscripts were available for translation. The numbering scheme was, of course, based on those manuscripts which were available at the time. The KJV is one of the translations written around this time. (It is very interesting to look at how few manuscripts the KJV is based on, but that is a huge volatile topic that I won't go into here.)

Since that time, thousands of manuscripts have been excavated, which have given us more insight into what the original wording might have been. Modern translators (e.g. the NIV translators) seek to faithfully handle the word of God by considering as many reliable manuscripts as possible during translation - which is exactly what the KJV translators sought to do in their day (they just had far fewer manuscripts to work with.)

Contrary to what the KJV-only camp would have you believe, the NIV translators are not trying to lead you into a fiery demise by deceiving you with false translations. Many of the so-called "missing verses" are referenced in the side-column of your NIV Bible (see here). The only reason they were left out is that the translators of the NIV honestly believed that the evidence was overwhelmingly against those verses being part of the original writing.

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I agree with pretty much everything Jas3.1 said, but let me add a couple of comments:

  1. It is certainly true that the manuscripts we have are copies of copies and that some number of discrepancies have crept in through the process. But as I note in my answer to this question: Is it possible for The Bible to contain errors?, most of these discrepancies are trivial spelling errors and the like. None affects any important doctrine.

  2. In my copy of the NIV, the verses they omit because they consider them debateable are still included in footnotes. (In other cases they include the verse in the text but then have a footnote saying it is debateable.) Some of my KJV-only friends take the NIV to task to for this. Not to start a fight, but I think it's fair to highlight where there is some debate about the text.

I suppose I can see that this could be construed as a maneuver by someone who doesn't like what the Bible says on a certain subject to try to cast doubt on the doctrine by casting doubt on the reliability of the text. But I don't see any evidence that the NIV has done this. Even without studying the manuscript evidence, there is no pattern to the elisions based on the doctrinal content. If a translation cast doubt on every verse that relates to, say. the Trinity, that would make me suspicious. But I don't see that.

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There are plenty of tampered scriptures in the NIV. I call the NIV people 'the Bible Butchers'. They change and 'fix' scriptures to their own version because they want it to suit international standards (widely accepted). They've changed and edited roughly over 60,000 words from many scripts closer to the originals. NIV tends to misinterpret the scripts in the first place, and then translate on the already misinterpreted scripts! Example:

Proverbs 18:24;

King James Version A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

New International Version One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

So are they saying the same thing? Course not... King James basically says if you want to have friends, then be friendly, but NIV says if you have friends, you'll come to ruin. NIV also took the word 'begotten' out of John 3:16, For God has many sons but He only has one BEGOTTEN Son. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I98SDiZC72E Also Kent Hovind gives a GREAT explanation of that. Bless you friend, I do hope you find what you need, for you or your cause.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE. I know that a downvote might not feel like much of a welcome but it's not because your post violates any of our guidelines. It's rare that someone presents a thought out and sourced first post so good job for that. The downvote was because I disagree with the methodology of comparing English translations to determine accuracy instead of comparing translations to the codicies they're translated from. Please don't take my opinon as discouragement and please continue posting. –  crownjewel82 Nov 28 '13 at 15:30
This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal opinion, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Nov 28 '13 at 15:47
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