Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Happened to John 5:4???

Pastor Lovejoy and I have been going over my favorite author recently, and while reading the Gospel of John I discovered something that truly shocked me. What I do is simply read the chapters we're going to discuss, take notes on my impressions and any questions and we get together and discuss my notes together. Sometimes I have a problem with a verse so I'll switch versions because many times that gives me a better idea of what is meant or implied. I was reading John 5 in the NASB in parallel with John 5 in the NIV, it's a great way to see the same thing spelled out in two different ways. 

(Disclaimer: avoid reading a REAL translation of the Bible in parallel with The Message. Doing this may cause some unwanted effects such as Chest pain, confusion, irregular pulse, feeling sad or empty, fever, general feeling of discomfort or illness, irritability, lack of appetite, lightheadedness, shakiness and unsteady walk with God, tiredness, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, and the urge to burn the Message)

But as I'm reading and taking notes I noticed something odd - the NIV skipped a verse:
"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. (NIV John 5)
Check it out - 1... 2... 3... 5... see it for yourself here. What's going on? The entire paragraph doesn't make any sense unless you simply assume that Bethesda is a place where the disabled gather for coffee and bagels every morning and talk about their recent doctor visit. However if you swap to another version, you'll find this is missing from the NIV: 

for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. (John 5:4)
The disabled are gathered at Bethesda in the hope that they will be cured when an angel stirs the water. Is there really an angel really stirring the water? Probably not, but the important thing is that these disabled people believe there is and they're there desperately hoping for a cure. As I researched this further I found John 5:4 missing from the ESV, NIRV, CEV, NLT, and of course the Message excludes this verse also. 

If you're reading a version that excludes John 5:4 sometimes there's a note that says that over versions contain that verse, and if you're reading a version that does include it, the verse may be in brackets or there may be a note that says other bibles do not contain this verse. 

This is a case of conflicting manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. The earliest Greek manuscripts do not include verse 4 while later manuscripts do. My personal guess is that John didn't include the myth of the Angel stirring the water because he wanted the reader to stay focused on Jesus even though at the time the myth of the Angel at Bethesda was well known. I'm guessing that later scribes added verse 4 because if you didn't know of the belief in that angel the entire paragraph makes little sense. Again that's just a guess, but the fact remains, the angel superstition wasn't in the original manuscripts but added later, and modern bible versions are based upon both manuscript versions.

The bible doesn't have a problem with angels, in fact the bible is crawling with angels running hither and yon doing this and that about the face of the earth, but there's been a lot of folklore and heretical worship of angels going on, Maybe newer bible translations chose to go with the original Greek and eliminate that superstition rather than the later more explanatory manuscript. I don't know they reason why this verse was included in later manuscripts, I can only guess

What this does teach is it that we need to read the bible more closely, if we missed something like an entire missing verse in the normal order of numbering, what else did we miss? I know Pastor Lovejoy was obviously shocked to see John 5:4 missing from his NIV and that he had never noticed. He knew about the superstition of the angel of Bethesda, but suddenly realized that the bible he was holding didn't mention it until I pointed it out. This goes to the value of comparing Bible versions, I never would have noticed this if I hadn't been reading two versions in parallel, and let's face it, don't we all blip over footnotes? We all need to be sure we're doing the Berean thing.

Bereans Petra! (I'm going to get a t-shirt that says that)

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