Monday, April 17, 2017

The Little Verse That Isn't There

[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]—Ps 145:13b

Verse 13b is the little verse that isn’t there. No text of the Hebrew Bible contains it prior to the 3rd century A.D. Most modern versions place a verse in brackets to indicate that it is not in the original text.

Ordinarily we wouldn't know that a verse is missing, but Psalm 145 is an  alphabetic acrostic, each verse beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew Alphabet in sequence. The "mem" ("M") line is present (13a), but the verse that should begin with "nun" ("N") is missing in the Hebrew text.

Apparently some 3rd century A.D. scribe, realizing that a verse had been omitted, made up one to fill out the acrostic. The "made up" verse is found in several versions—notably, the Greek and Latin versions and the Dead Sea Scrolls—and is the text that appears in brackets in most modern translations: ["The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works."]

I can’t think of a better summation of my thoughts about God. As Quakers say, “This scribe speaks my mind.”

If you were asked to make up a verse of the Bible—one that sums up your thoughts about God—what would you write?

David Roper


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