The Character of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Texts

Will Kinney

Most of the over 5000 New Testament differences between the King James Bible and modern Bible versions like the NASB, NIV, RSV, Living Bible, and others, are the result of mainly two manuscripts which allegedly date to around 350 AD called Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Vaticanus (B).

Dean John William Burgon, personally collated the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts. In his book, "The Revision Revised", which he wrote in 1881, he gives his opinion and lists undeniable facts about what these two manuscripts say.

Mr. Burgon states on page 11; "Singular to relate Vaticanus and Aleph have within the last 20 years established a tyrannical ascendance over the imagination of the Critics, which can only be fitly spoken of as a blind superstition. It matters nothing that they are discovered on careful scrutiny to differ essentially, not only from ninety-nine out of a hundred of the whole body of extant MSS. besides, but even from one another. In the gospels alone B (Vaticanus) is found to omit at least 2877 words: to add 536, to substitute, 935; to transpose, 2098: to modify 1132 (in all 7578): - the corresponding figures for Aleph being 3455 omitted, 839 added, 1114 substitued, 2299 transposed, 1265 modified (in all 8972). And be it remembered that the omissions, additions, substitutions, transpositions, and modifications, are by no means the same in both. It is in fact easier to find two consecutive verses in which these two mss. differ the one from the other, than two consecutive verses in which they entirely agree."

On page 319 of he remarks, "In the Gospels alone Vaticanus has 589 readings quite peculiar to itself, affecting 858 words while Aleph has 1460 such readings, afecting 2640 words."

The purpose of this article is to give you just a few of many examples of how contradictory and confusing these two "oldest and best" manuscripts really are when contrasted with the Traditional Greek Text that underlies the King James Bible of 1611. Literally thousands of words have been omitted from the KJB text primarily on the basis of Aleph or B, yet the modern versions follow no discernable or logical pattern as to when they decide to include or exclude readings from one or the other

Omitted and Corruped Passages

SINAITICUS completely omits the following verses while they are found in Vaticanus. Matthew 24:35 - "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away"; Luke 10:32; 17:35; John 9:38; 16:15; 21:25; and I Corinthians 13:2.

VATICANUS omits the following verses while Sinaiticus retains them: Matthew 12:47. Luke 23:17 - This verse is omitted in B and the NASB, NIV yet it is in Sinaiticus and the Majority of all Greek texts "For of necessity he must release on onto them at the feast." Yet B omits Luke 23:34 "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" while it is retained in Sinaiticus and this time kept in the NASB, NIV. Go figure.

In the gospels alone, both SINAITICUS and VATICANUS omit the following verses. Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:17; Mark 7:16, 9:44, 46, 11:26, 15:28; Luke 9:55-56, 17:36, 23:17, and John 5:4. They are all found in the majority of the remaining Greek texts we have today. The NASB of 1972 omitted these verses, but in 1977 put them back [in brackets]. The NIV continues to omit these verses entirely.

Matthew 6:13

What is commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer ends with these words: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Out of about 1000 remaining manuscripts these words are found in all but 10, or a ratio of 100 to 1. They are included in the Didache 150 AD, and the Diatessaron 170 AD (200 years before Sinaticus and Vaticanus) . They are also found in the following ancient Bible versions: The Old Latin 200 AD, the Syriac Peshitta 250 AD, Harclean, Curetonian, Palestinian, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, and Ethiopic. However both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit them and the NIV omits them while the NASB puts them in brackets.

Matthew 6:2-3

Both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus completely omit most of 2 and all of verse 3. "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky: but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" Here the NASB includes the words with no notes while the NIV footnotes that these words "are not found in some early manuscripts."

Matthew 17:20

An error is still retained in the NASB, NIV, and is the result of following Aleph and B. When the disciples could not cast out a devil they ask Jesus why. The Lord tells them, "Because of your UNBELIEF: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove." In this instance they had no faith at all and Jesus tells them that if they had just a little bit of faith they could remove mountains.

However both Aleph and B read "little faith" instead of "no faith" and so the NASB, NIV read: "Because you have SO LITTLE FAITH. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed...". If they had a little bit of faith to begin with, it doesn't make sense to tell them they only need a mustard seed of faith to accomplish great things. But if they had no faith, then Jesus' words make sense.

Matthew 27:49

A very serious error occurs here in both of these manuscripts, which is not by the NASB, NIV, or the RSV, though the reading is noted in the RSV footnote as, * Other ancient authorities insert - "And another took a spear and pierced his side and there came out water and blood." This reading of both Aleph and B has a man killing our Lord rather than He Himself commending His spirit into the hands of the Father and voluntarily giving up the ghost.

This false reading also has Christ being put to death at this time and yet we see from the very next verse and the other gospels that He continues to speak and say in Luke 23:44-46, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit", and in John 19:30, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost". It is not until AFTER our Lord said all these things and He Himself voluntarily gave up His own life that we read in John 19:34, "one of the soldiers with a spear piered his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water".

Obviously some very careless scribes took this reading from John's gospel and placed it in Matthew 27:49 where it is completely out of order. Yet this reading is found in both of these "oldest and best" manuscripts upon which most modern versions are based.

Mark 1:2

Another error still retained in the NASB and NIV is found in this verse. The KJB reads: "As it is written IN THE PROPHETS, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way BEFORE THEE. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

Here we have two different prophets quoted. One is Malachi and the other is Isaiah. That is why it says prophets - plural. It is the reading of the Majority of Greek texts. It is found in many ancient versions and quoted by Ireneaus and Tertullian who lived 150 years before Aleph and B ever saw the light of day. Yet the NASB/NIV say, "as it is written in ISAIAH..." Only part of the quote comes from Isaiah; the other part is from Malachi. In Mark 1:1-2, both Aleph and B change 'the prophets' to 'Isaiah', and both omit the words "before thee". Sinaiticus omits THE SON OF GOD from verse 1, but it is found in Vaticanus.

Mark 6:22

"And when the daughter of Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod..." both Aleph and B read, "And when HIS daugher Herodias came in and danced", thus making Herodias the daughter of Herod.

Luke 1:26

"And the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of GALILEE, named Nazareth." Sinaiticus reads "a city of JUDEA, named Nazareth". - a clear geographical error (one of many). Nazareth is in Galilee, not Judea.

Luke 10:1

"After these things the Lord appointed other SEVENTY also, and sent them two and two before his face." Here, B reads 72 sent and so does the NIV, but Aleph reads 70, and so does the NASB.

John 7:8-10

Here we read of Jesus telling his brethren to go up unto a feast and He says: "I go NOT up YET unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Gallilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret."

He did in fact go up to the feast. Sinaiticus joins the KJB reading with, "I go not up YET unto this feast", and so does the NIV, but B says: "I DO NOT GO to this feast", and so does the NASB, thus making our Lord a liar.

Also in just these three verses we see that the word 'this' of THIS FEAST is omitted by B but found in Aleph, but the NASB and NIV both omit the word, while "UNTO THEM" is in the NASB and B, but not in the NIV or Aleph, and "AS IT WERE" is in B and the NASB, but not in Aleph and the NIV. This is the character of these two manuscripts and bible versions in a nutshell.

John 17:15

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them OUT OF THE WORLD." Vaticanus says: "I do not pray that you should take them FROM THE EVIL ONE."

I Corinthians 13:3

Instead of reading, "and though I give my body to BE BURNED, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" both Aleph and B read: "and though I give my body THAT I MAY BOAST".

I Corinthians 13:5

"charity seeketh not HER OWN." Vaticanus alone reads "love does not seek that which IS NOT HERS" - the opposite meaning.

I Corinthians 15:51

"We shall NOT all sleep, but we shall all be changed" in Sinaticus reads: "we shall sleep but we shall NOT ALL be changed" - the exact opposite.

I Corinthians 15:54-55

"Death is swallowed up in VICTORY. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your VICTORY." in Vaticanus reads "Death is swallowed up in CONTROVERSY. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your CONTROVERSY."

1 Thessalonians 2:7

"But we were GENTLE among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children." "But we were BABIES among you." according to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

II Peter 3:10

"the earth also and the works that are therein SHALL BE BURNED UP" in both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus reads: "the works that are therein SHALL BE FOUND".

The Book of Revelation

The Vaticanus manuscript is missing all of the book of Revelation as well as First and Second Timothy, Titus and from the middle of Hebrews 9 to the end of the book. However Sinaiticus give us some really strange readings in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 4:8

"HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." But Sinaiticus says: " Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty..."

Revelation 7:4 and 14:3

Both verses mention the number of 144, 000. However Sinaiticus has the number 140,000 in 7:4 and 141,000 in 14:3.

Revelation 10:1

"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and A RAINBOW was upon his head..." Sinaiticus says: "clothed with a cloud with HAIR on his head."

Revelation 21:4

"For THE FORMER THINGS are passed away." Sinaiticus reads: "For THE SHEEP are passed away."

Revelation 21:5

"Behold, I make all things NEW" while Sinaiticus says: "Behold, I make all things EMPTY."


This is the true character of these two "oldest and best" manuscripts and it is utterly amazing to see so many Christians using modern versions which are based on them. It is my firm conviction that God has preserved His inspired, pure and perfect words as He promised and they are found today in English only in the Majority Texts" (and not the Minority Texts).

Jeremiah 6:16, "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."

Matthew 11:15, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

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