Did the Early Scribes Understand John 9:3 Correctly?

Articles 1 Comment

The punctuation found in later manuscripts was added by scribes, and is not original to the New Testament. As such, the punctuation that has been passed on to us is the product of the scribes’ own interpretation.

The punctuation found in later manuscripts was added by scribes, and is not original to the New Testament. As such, the punctuation that has been passed on to us is the product of the scribes’ own interpretation.

Imagine trying to read a book in which the words are not separated by spaces, and the phrases are not marked by punctuation of any sort, so that all you see is a continuous stream of letters for which you must provide your own word- and phrase-stops. Not only would the unusual condition of the text slow you down a great deal, but you would also, at times, be at a loss to know the precise meaning of certain sentences, because punctuation guides the way in which we interpret texts.

Believe it or not, this is how the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts were written. The punctuation found in later manuscripts was added by scribes, and is not original to the New Testament. As such, the punctuation that has been passed on to us is the product of the scribes’ own interpretation. Of course, this means that there may be places where the scribes punctuated incorrectly (i.e., not in keeping with the intended meaning), so that all the various translations of the Greek have gotten it wrong, causing us to misunderstand the intended meaning. Several years ago, it occurred to me that this might be the case with John 9:1-5.

Premium Members
If you are not a Premium Member, please consider becoming one starting at $10/month (paid monthly) or only $5/month (paid annually):

One Time Purchase Rather Than Membership
Rather than a membership, you may also purchase access to this entire page for $1.99 USD. (If you do not have an account select "Register & Purchase.")

Login & Purchase

Comments 1

  1. Thank you for clarifying the meaning of this verse. I have always been troubled by the translation found in KJV and others.

Leave a Reply

  • Jack Poirier

    Jack Poirier

    Jack Poirier is the chair of biblical studies at the newly forming Kingswell Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio (scheduled to open in Fall 2008). Jack earned his doctorate in Ancient Judaism from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where he wrote a dissertation…
    [Read more about author]

  • Online Hebrew Course

    Do you want to learn Hebrew? Check out our online Hebrew course Aleph-Bet: Hebrew Reading and Writing for Christians in 17 Easy Lessons.