When I tried to look at the verses quoted in this question Ihttp://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/5903/what-did-jesus-write-on-the-ground/
I found that in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures John 7 ends at verse 52 and John 8 starts with verse 12 so the whole story about Jesus writing in the dust and saying let he who is without sin cast the first stone does not exist in this translation A foot note states that many consider the omitted verses to be of questionable sourcing

Why would some bibles have these verses and others leave them out?


The chapter and verse divisions found in virtually all modern Bibles originated on the mid 16th century:

Robert Estienne created an alternate numbering in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament which was also used in his 1553 publication of the Bible in French. Estienne's system of division was widely adopted, and it is this system which is found in almost all modern Bibles. (Wikipedia)

However, the best Greek NT available at the time was Erasmus’ Received Text. Since that time significant older and more reliable manuscripts have been discovered. In the late 19th century two Christian scholars, Wescott and Hort, compiled a “critical Greek text” for the NT. They utilized (and in some cases pioneered) scientific methods of textual criticism to propose the most likely original text of the NT. The New World Translation (a Jehovah Witness translation of the Bible which is considered by most Christians to be heretical) is based on WH’s Greek NT to this day. WH proposed that these verses are not original to John so the Jehovah Witness translators leave the passage out entirely.
Most modern translations (the NKJV being a notable exception) are based on the Nestle-Aland Greek NT and the United Bible Society’s Greek NT (now identical texts). These critical NT compilations follow in the tradition of WH but take into account even more recent manuscript discoveries. Furthermore the NA and UBS Greek NTs list many variations of the text in footnotes and note which significant manuscripts contain what.
Most modern Bible translations retain this passage for historical and traditional reasons but place it within brackets to denote that the verses may not be original to the Gospel of John. The ESV Study Bible states:

There is considerable doubt that this story is part of John’s original Gospel, for it is absent from all of the oldest manuscripts. But there is nothing in it unworthy of sound doctrine. It seems best to view the story as something that probably happened during Jesus’ ministry but that was not originally part of what John wrote in his Gospel. Therefore it should not be considered as part of Scripture and should not be used as the basis for building any point of doctrine unless confirmed in Scripture. (ESV Study Bible on John 7:53-8:11)

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    Hi! A couple quibbles: 1) The characterization "heretical" is generally not good form here, 2) Since UBS3 / NA26 (1975 /1 979), the texts are not virtually identical but identical, a very big decision at the time. 3) Neither "list[s ] all variations of the text in footnotes". The UBS in particular aims to be very selective in the variants included. For something like comprehensive, see the Editio Critica Majora, to be completed 2030. – Susan Feb 3 '16 at 21:36
  • Thank you for the clarifications, Susan. Most of this I was recalling from memory of research I did almost a decade ago. I will edit the answer to reflect a couple of your “quibbles” – JRystedt Feb 3 '16 at 22:45
  • Kris, I don't use a 17th century Bible translation either (note the use of the ESV Study Bible in the answer). Like all translations the NWT is the Word of God when it is faithful to the original texts and I don't doubt it has blessed you greatly. Furthermore, I did not label you, your mother, or any other individual a heretic. The adjective "heretical" is an opinionated part of my answer (in accord with universally confessed and historic Christian doctrine) to reflect the translation's biases. – JRystedt Feb 4 '16 at 2:06
  • I am not. As stated in my answer, most Bible translators reject the authenticity of this text on the grounds of the current manuscript evidence (traditional Christians included). – JRystedt Feb 4 '16 at 15:42
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    Good answer, but I wish to point out a few items. The statement that "significant older and more reliable manuscripts” presupposes that older manuscripts are always more reliable. The statement "Wescott and Hort ...utilized ... scientific methods of textual criticism to propose the most likely original text of the NT” assumes that the original text of the NT has been lost. It also errs by calling their critical techniques “scientific." They systematized their presumptions, but how is does their techniques follow the scientific method? – Andrew Neely Feb 5 '16 at 21:36

The simple answer is that there are some older manuscripts that lack the reading. If credence is placed in the older manuscript, then the reading is left out. The assumption is that the older manuscripts are closer to the source documents.

By the way, many view the New World Translation with suspicion. It is a product of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses.) From what I've heard, there isn't much known about how they created the translation.

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