Problem: There are lots of minor errors
Verses: Multiple; Status: Weak

There are a great deal of minor errors in our modern translations of the Bible. However, inerrantists only claim that the original documents, as first written thousands of years ago, are without error. Everyone acknowledges that modern texts are corrupt in various ways.

To give an example of the sort of thing I'm talking about, here's a comparison of 2 Kings 24:8 and 2 Chronicles 36:9:

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; he reigned for three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. (NRSV)
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned for three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. (NRSV)

Although this is clearly a contradiction, the question is whether the original manuscripts contained it. They may have, or the text may have been corrupted as it was copied later. There are many such problems where it's impossible to say.

Some Bible translations go ahead and sort out such errors. The ESV and NIV both fix the above problem, taking as their authority one Hebrew manuscript and some Septuagint manuscripts. In my opinion, it is not clear that they are wrong to do so.

Of course, it should be noted that it's always possible for an inerrantist to claim that a contradiction is the result of copying errors. However, this is more plausible in cases where the text contains unexciting information like how old someone was; a scribe could easily make an error on such a small detail without noticing.

Updated: Summer 2008

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