The NRSV-CE omits mentioning prayer and fasting, explaining in footnote (g):

Matthew 17:20 Other ancient authorities add verse 21, But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting

Rheims translation of Mt. 17:20, based on Jerome's Latin Vulgate, says:

But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.
Hoc autem genus non ejicitur nisi per orationem et jejunium.

Why does the NRSV-CE omit mentioning prayer and fasting in Matthew 17?


2 Answers 2


By "Other ancient authorities add verse 21, But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting" they mean that not all sources contain verse 21, and they come to the conclusion that it is a later addition and not originally there. So the translators omit the verse to be closer to the original text (which is unknown). It reflects a decision what sources the translators deemed more authoritative than others. Maybe because they are older, or there are more sources which confirm this reading.

I can't say anything about how justified this is in this particular case, but this is what should be understood from the footnote.


The NRSV-CE (1989) comes from the RSV-CE (1966), which is a 1946 Protestant translation with all canonical books included (pp. xviii & 9 of Which Bible Should You Read?).

The NRSV-CE omits "fasting" in its translation of Mk. 9:29 (so does the NABRE):

He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”

cf. Rheims's Mk. 9:28:

And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Fasting scandalizes "modern man," so it's left out.

Which Bible Should You Read? pp. 28-30 gives another example of a glaring omission of verses in nominally Catholic bibles: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24:24-31. The Douay version reads:

... [24] I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.
Ego mater pulchrae dilectionis, et timoris, et agnitionis, et sanctae spei.

... [25] In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.
In me gratia omnis viae et veritatis : in me omnis spes vitae et virtutis.

... [26] Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.
Transite ad me, omnes qui concupiscitis me, et a generationibus meis implemini :

... [27] For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.
spiritus enim meus super mel dulcis, et haereditas mea super mel et favum.

... [28] My memory is unto everlasting generations.
Memoria mea in generatione saeculorum.

... [29] They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.
Qui edunt me, adhuc esurient, et qui bibunt me, adhuc sitient.

... [30] He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.
Qui audit me non confundetur, et qui operantur in me non peccabunt :

... [31] They that explain me shall have life everlasting.
qui elucidant me, vitam aeternam habebunt.

But the NRSV-CE of Sirach 24 omits the bold verses above, and NRSV-CE v. 19 corresponds to Douay v. 26! Douay vv. 24-25's omission is explained in a footnote of the NSRV-CE, but the NRSV-CE doesn't explain its omission of Douay v. 31 in a footnote!

These verses were probably omitted because the Catholic Church uses them in the liturgy for various feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mother, and mention of her is a scandal to Protestants.

According to Which Bible Should You Read? p. 29,

All together, Chapter 24 of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) has some […] 13 fewer verses in the CRSV [Catholic Revised Standard Version] than the Vulgate and DRB [Douay-Rheims Bible]!

Indeed, the Douay version has 47 verses, and the NRSV-CE has only 34.

The "old Latin vulgate" is the only official edition of Holy Scriptures for the universal Church, as defined in the Council of Trent.

  • Geremia, to me there was an apparent clash between V.20 and V.21 with the former saying: He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”. If Jesus meant that one needs to have faith, fasting and prayer - all at the same time, it would, at least for some, invalidate the theory of `faith alone saves '. I think that your remark ``Fasting scandalizes "modern man," so it's left out.'" has a personal touch . Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 8:03
  • Regarding fasting scandalizing "modern man": That reason is frequently given by Modernists (such as those of Concilium, who created the Novus Ordo Mass) to justify stripping anything with "negative theology" such as:
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 18:22
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan "• Divine wrath • Punishment in this life for sin • Condemnations of impurity • The "narrow gate" to salvation • Hell • The evils of the world • Dangers from heretics, pagans and Jews • The "outmoded" New Testament teaching on the role of women. • Punishment for receiving the Eucharist unworthily." and anything un-ecumenical such as emphasis on Mary.
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 18:22
  • Thanks. I would like to have your opinion on the other view-point relating to `clash of concepts' as referred to in my comment that is Verse 20 Vs Verse 21. Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 3:35
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan Perhaps you can open another question about that specifically.
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 16:47

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