Examples of fallibility of bible versions/translations

What’s UP, Brethren :wave:

In line with the topic of the Scripture’s divine inspiration from another post,

I would like to have this post as a collection of our personally discovered Bible version/translation errors and how are we able to reconcile it to the Scripture’s claim of inerrancy, infallibility, and divine preservation (Matt.5:18, KJV)

Please share your contributions as a reply to this post.

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“For in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.”
(Gen.49:6b, KJV)

“For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hocked an ox.”
(Gen.49:6b, ASV)

“For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will eradicated a prince.”
(Gen.49:6b, YLT)

This would not have been my first example, but it has been my latest discovery related to the topic of version errors/discrepancies.

According to the mobile Bible app, And Bible, the last word of the above cited verse translated as wall, ox, and prince in the KJV, ASV, and YLT, respectively, came from the Hebrew word

07794 7794
[shôr] shore, meaning wall

which was by mistake for

07791 7791
[shûr] shoor, meaning bullock, cow, or ox

Did you notice the small jot ( . ) in between the Hebrew characters,

ר and ו

in 07791?

Though the error do not necessarily affect any significant Bible doctrine, the passage becomes more clear or logical when versions are compared and the original text is checked. (The brothers Simeon and Levi killed Shechem, a Hivite prince, to avenge their sister Dinah’s humiliation.)

God kept that small jot, that tittle of an ink from an ancient, delicate manuscript from being obliterated through hundred of years to fulfill His promise in Matt.5:18 that He will preserve every little part of His Word until all it promised is fulfilled.


Hi Dennis,
The Bible is a very ancient document that has gone through a series of hand-copied manuscripts over the years. Most of the ‘errors’ are a result of variations that have crept in during this process. The study of such variations in the text is the science of textual criticism. The Hebrew language especially has undergone several changes over the millenia. Even the ‘square’ script that is used now is derived from the Aramaic language. Ancient hebrew script, which was used before the Assyrian invasion of Israel used a script that is very different from the Aramaic script.

Now the question is this - has there been any serious variations that significantly change any aspect of doctrine or theology? This question has been studied over the centuries by scholars involved in textual criticism and it is the general consensus that the answer is no - there have been no significant changes.

The standard source for Hebrew text of the Old Testament (OT) for many years was the Masoretic text. This was the Hebrew text meticulously copied and preserved by the Masoretes between the 5th to 10th century AD. This was the source for early english translations like the KJV. However, over the years, much older manuscripts were discovered, and between 1947- 1956 even older manuscripts of the OT were discovered in the Dead Sea scrolls collection. This give a much earlier source of the written text, closer to the actual original text. Yes, several variants were found, but the greatest discovery of the Dead sea scrolls was that the Hebrew text of the Bible is very reliable and has not been changed significantly over the years.

The Bible also has a distinct advantage over other ancient documents of the same vintage, in that there are many many more copies of the documents available. This means that it is easier to detect variant readings, compare and get closer to the original writing by the author, when compared to other ancient documents. This applies both to the OT and the Greek New Testament.

Today, though we are further away from the original authors of the books, we have a much more accurate version of the Bible because we have access to many more manuscripts and a greater ability to interact and collaborate with those who possess these manuscripts. So the modern translations are more reliable than the older ones. At the same time, we need to be realistic and humble in understanding that the idea of ‘inerrancy’ does not mean that there are no variations at all among all the copies. There is however a huge amount of evidence to say with confidence that the text of the Bible we have today is very reliable and has not undergone significant changes over time.

If you are interested, here are a few online video links for the old and new testament textual criticism.
The first video is the first in a series that looks at how the old testament came to be. The second is Daniel Wallace, who deals with the Greek New Testament.


Hi @dennis , thanks for starting this thread. There are some very interesting examples so far. I think the examples you shared shows the human error in the text, but the essential doctrine or theology remains as it was. I think that’s God’s grace to preserve His true word even when humans make mistakes in copying out the text.

What I notice in all the examples so far, is that there are some mistakes when a person painstakingly copies out a pre-existing manuscript. Their intention is to recreate the original as it was, but happen to miss a mark in the text, or misunderstand a word from the different language. I think there is still integrity in what they are trying to achieve. These translations are checked and rechecked by multiple scholars, and today even if modern translations are written, there is generally a team of 50 or so Biblical language scholars to ensure nothing is changed from the original.

When it comes to preserving the Bible’s original message accurately, these mistakes don’t concern me so much as some more recent ‘translations’ of the Bible that have appeared, that come about from one or a handful of individuals who take upon themselves the task of correcting doctrine in the Bible that they perceive has been altered over the centuries. I’m thinking of examples like The New World Translation, used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, or The Passion Translation, used in some hyper charismatic churches. Both these translations go away from the original manuscripts, adding or changing concepts.

For example, in nearly every Bible, John 1:1 says

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the New World Translation, it says

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

This helps the JW doctrine that teaches that Jesus (the Word) was not part of the triune God, but was instead the first creation of Jehovah. This is an incredibly key alteration that impacts an entire doctrine, and thus, the understanding of salvation.

There are many alterations in the text of The Passion Translation, a study on this could take hours. Holly Pivec (Biola University) and Prof. Doug Geivett (Biola University) have done a great amount of research into TPT and the type of Christianity that it’s come from, and Holly has put together a fact sheet here: Passion-Translation-Fact-Sheet-1.pdf (squarespace.com)

In it, Holly gives an example of an alteration:

Example 1: Take note of the addition of teaching about the Holy Spirit and the deletion of admonitions to correct and rebuke.

2 Timothy 4:2
Standard English Translations:

  • “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and
    exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (English Standard Version)
  • “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and
    encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (New International
  • “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke,
    exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (New King James Version)
  • The Passion Translation: “proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.” (TPT)

Whilst this doesn’t impact the doctrine of salvation as the example above from NWT, it certainly adds to Christian doctrine in a way that can mislead Christians in their walk and growth with God. The removal of admonitions to rebuke is part of a teaching that is all about the exciting, Holy Spirit experiences of Christianity, leaving out the more challenging parts of faith.

I know people who love TPT because it speaks to them in a different way from ordinary translations because of the poetic nature of the language. As a piece of poetry, its very eloquent, but as God’s true word, untrustworthy.

I think it’s important to understand the different types of errors that can arise in Bible translation. We certainly need God’s wisdom as we read new translations that come along.