Among many (good) arguments against KJV-onlyism, I have heard the following argument:

The idea that “preservation” requires us to have 100% accurate knowledge of the original words of scripture is a standard that was not demanded by Christ or the Apostles.

To bolster this argument, it is suggested that Christ or the NT authors will occasionally base an argument on a textual variant from the OT (probably from the Septuagint) where the original reading actually says something different.

Thus, the argument goes, it is possible to acknowledge that we do not have 100% perfect accuracy in our copies while still holding to a doctrine of preservation... one defined by the belief that the message of the Bible is perfectly clear, even though some meaningful and viable textual variants exist.

I do not remember any specific passages cited where Christ or the NT authors did this sort of thing (made applications based on textual variants). Does anyone know of any?

  • 5
    Are you counting quotations of the Septuagint as textual variants? Nearly every NT quotation of the OT follows the Septuagint when there is a discrepancy.
    – bradimus
    Oct 29, 2017 at 0:18
  • You’re asking about textual variants, but what are these variants varying from? In other words, what do you consider the original reading? No original manuscripts exist; all we have are copies, which may contain “variants” themselves. Are you asking for a list of passages where the NT quotes OT scripture in different words than that part of the OT in the same English translation? If so, are you asking about the KJV, or another translation? The original texts of the NT and OT are in two different languages, so it’s impossible to compare the “originals” directly for variants.
    – Zenon
    Oct 29, 2017 at 0:28
  • When the NT quotes the OT, it does so in Greek, while the originals are in Hebrew.
    – Zenon
    Oct 29, 2017 at 0:32
  • 1
    Here's an example that's close to what I'm looking for: 1 Pet. 4:18 ("And if the righteous are scarcely saved...") appears to follow the LXX reading of Prov. 11:31 . However the KJV and modern English translations have Prov. 11:31 as "If the righteous is repaid on earth..." (My knowledge of OT textual criticism is limited, but I assume based on the unanimous reading among English Bibles at Prov 11:31 that "repaid on earth" is a better reading of the original Hebrew than what the LXX has). So is that perhaps an example where Peter's point is based on a textual variant the LXX mistranslated? Oct 29, 2017 at 0:38

2 Answers 2


First, I’d like to give a bit of background on the different OT manuscripts. The OT in English Bibles is almost always based off the Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls, but some use the Septuagint. The KJV uses the Masoretic. There are some discrepancies between the Septuagint and the Masoretic; nineteen times out of twenty, the Dead Sea Scrolls agree with the Masoretic, so for the purposes of this answer I’ll consider them one and the same. The NT, written in Koine Greek, quotes the Septuagint, which is the same language. The Masoretic text is in Hebrew. Some claim that the Masoretic has been doctored, such as Orthodox churches. Others say that because the Septuagint is a translation itself, it is less reliable.

From your question and comment, I would assume you’re looking for discrepancies between the NT quotations and the Masoretic. Most English Bibles use the Masoretic, with the Septuagint being the textual variant you refer to.

This website provides an exhaustive list of instances where the NT quotes the OT. It gives the passages side-by-side from the NT, the Septuagint, and the Masoretic. Some are virtually identical between the texts; others vary rather significantly. The matter of which differences are significant enough to be considered “textual variants” is a matter of opinion, and as such is not a topic for this site. That’s for you to decide.

Note: “AV” stands for “Authorized Version,” which is the British name for the King James Version. That’s the translation used for the NT and Masoretic texts in the table linked to above.


I can think of one example.

Matthew 21:16 (KJV)

And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Psalm 8:2 (KJV/following Masoretic)

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Psalm 8:2 (DRB/following Vul/LXX)

Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.

[Emphasis added]

Jesus is quoting the Septuagintic tradition. Not the Hebrew here.

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