Shocking News from Jerusalem: The Bible Has Changed!

by Dan Wallace

On August 12, 2011, the Associated Press released for wide distribution a story with the provocative title, “In Jerusalem, scholars trace Bible’s evolution.” The story went viral on the Internet in nanoseconds. I got countless emails from friends and strangers within 24 hours of the story’s release, all wondering if their faith was in jeopardy. Why? What did the story reveal?

Here are some highlights:

  • Work done on the Hebrew Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem “would startle many readers of the Old Testament” because what was written in the past is not what we read today.
  • “Scholars…have been quietly at work for 53 years on one of the most ambitious projects attempted in biblical studies—publishing the authoritative edition of the Old Testament… and tracking down every single evolution of the text over centuries and millennia.”
  • “And it has evolved, despite deeply held beliefs to the contrary.”
  • “For many Jews and Christians, religion dictates that the words of the Bible in the original Hebrew are divine, unaltered and unalterable.”
  • An unspecified verse from Malachi in which ‘in my name’ was added later is mentioned, as is an unspecified verse from Deuteronomy which changes ‘you’ to ‘us.’ The changes are claimed to be ‘significant.’
  • Most revealing, the Masoretic Text of Jeremiah is one-seventh longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls text, written about 1000 years earlier. The longer text also apparently has a prophecy in it that was added after the fact.
  • “Considering that the nature of their work would be considered controversial, if not offensive, by many religious people, it is perhaps surprising that most of the project’s scholars are themselves Orthodox Jews.

These are the statements from a reputable news source. Prima facie, this looks rather disturbing. In particular, the article doesn’t accent the fact that absolutely none of these textual issues are new to biblical scholars. Ever since the Dead Sea Scrolls were made public decades ago, scholars have recognized the differences between the older Hebrew Jeremiah and the Masoretic text. In fact, the older Hebrew form was already known for hundreds of years because it is found in some old Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint. And the prophecy added after the event? Here’s the statement: “Some verses, including ones containing a prophecy about the seizure and return of Temple implements by Babylonian soldiers, appear to have been added after the events happened.” I’m not sure which text the author is referring to, but Jer 28.6 makes this same prophecy and that’s a passage found in the Septuagint. So if the same prophecy has been duplicated elsewhere in Jeremiah, is it really honest to speak of the prophecy as “added after the events happened”? Yes, those words in that place would be, but not this specific prophecy since Jer 28.6 is found in the earliest forms of the text…


Shocking News from Jerusalem: The Bible Has Changed! | Parchment and Pen

The Poached Egg Apologetics

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:   On the Reliability of the Old Testament / The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? / The Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture / More Apologetics Resources >>>