Debunking that Bible meme….or not
Today a good friend messaged me and asked if I had seen the latest meme that’s going around social media about the Bible missing verses. She asked if I knew whether it was true or not. I absolutely adore that someone trusts me as a source of truth. Either that or she just recognizes I’m obsessed enough on some things to not let go without fact checking it.
I honestly thought it would be a thirty second task to debunk it and call it fake news.
I happened to have Biblegateway.com open for another project I was working on so I just popped over to that window to check it out. And guess what? Matthew 18:11 was, indeed missing. Okay okay – but it probably just meant that they blended two verses together. I mean have you ever tried to search for a specific verse in The Message?
So I decided at that point to grab a Bible in our house. You know, the old fashioned print kind? A women’s devotional Bible I used for a long time was within reach, so I snagged it. I thought that it might just be the difference between print and digital at that point. This is a Bible I had for years, (in fact I reviewed it here) so I thought for sure I would find the sneaky missing verse. Nope.
If you look in the picture above, it just skips from 10 straight to 12.
I find it absolutely fascinating that they didn’t re-number the verses. I think that would have set people off immediately though. For myself, I have been reading the Bible for so many years that I just skip straight past the numbers and it wouldn’t even register that I’d missed a verse. If you’re really eagle-eyed, you’ll see they put a footnote at the end of verse 10. When you get to the bottom of the page, you’ll see this:
Now completely intrigued, I went through the house and grabbed every Bible I could easily find. We have a lot of Bibles here. A lot. So I started opening them and searching earnestly. Anyone curious what that looked like?
I was today years old when I learned this.
I’m sure all of my pastor and theologically inclined friends are going to pull a “duh – we all knew this” on me, but that’s okay. I do remember a couple of years ago some rumors and such flying across the internet that they were taking out a bunch of things in the new NIV but I honestly thought it was one of those big social media rumors. There were a lot of those flying around at the time.
The text that accompanied that meme had a lot of info in it and I don’t know if all of that is true. Example: It only lists NIV and ESV as the two versions that are affected. In my study today though, I found it missing in NLT as well. The text also states that nearly 65,000 words were removed for this translation. (64, 575 to be exact) It also said 45 full verses had been removed. I can’t verify any of those, but I did check on the ones they listed. They were:
- Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14
- Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46
- Luke 17:36, 23:17
- John 5:4; Acts 8:37
I did not look through each of my Bibles to check all the verses, but I did go to Biblegateway and yes, those verses do appear to be missing.
There is one Bible that made it into both stacks.
The black leather Bible in the stack on the left is supposed to be the exact same identical Bible to the second from the bottom in the right photo. The only difference is supposed to be the covers – one hard cover and one leather. The leather cover has the verses included. The hardcover does not.
Here’s the thing.
If you do search and you find out that your Bible appears to be missing the verses, you can usually look and find the verses in the footnotes or the margins. It is still the full Bible, you’ll just need to look a little harder. But for myself, I don’t want the extra steps. That means I’m dumping the Bible I have been making notes in and going back to the Inductive Study Bible I used for years. I’ll be looking more closely at any versions of the Bible that I buy from here on out.
Lori Twichell is a screenwriter and also the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing, Radiant Lit and Fiction Addict.