Was Acts 28:29 removed from modern Bibles?

by Luke Wayne
10/31/18
Return to King James Onlyism

Modern translations are often maligned by King James Only advocates for not containing a handful of verses that are found in the KJV. One such verse is Acts 28:29. King James Onlyists claim that modern translators have "removed" or "deleted" this verse. Such a claim assumes that the verse was originally part of the biblical text and that modern translators have taken it out. Modern scholars claim, however, that the verse was not part of the text in the first place and was added in much later by subsequent scribes. To decide between these two options, we must look at the actual evidence.

The Verse in Question

The verse under discussion here traditionally reads in older English translations:

"And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves," (Acts 28:29, KJV).

Of course, several modern translations, such as the MEV and  NKJV, also contain this verse. Even the NASB and HSCB include it, though they mark it off with brackets to alert readers to the questions about it. Thus, this is not really a "King James Only" issue at all. Whether the verse is indeed original to Acts or whether it was added later, that does nothing to prove that only the KJV is valid today. Still, it is worth looking more closely at the issue.

The Evidence For the Verse

The verse is found in the majority of medieval Greek manuscripts, so it has that going for it. On the other hand, even its earliest copies are quite late. The oldest Greek manuscripts to contain the verse are Codex L (eighth century), Codex P and Uncial 049 (ninth century), and numerous other manuscripts from the 10th century onward. It is found in some later Old Latin copies, the earliest of which is itar (ninth century). It is not in the early Vulgate manuscripts but is found in the later Clementine revision of the Vulgate. The verse is present in some late Syriac copies. It's also in the Slavonic and in the majority of the Ethiopic copies. None of this evidence is earlier than the eighth century and most of it is much later.

The Evidence Against the Verse

On the other hand, the verse is absent in Codex‭ א and Codex B (fourth century), Codex A and Uncial 48 (fifth century), Codex E (sixth century), Papyrus 74 (seventh century), Codex Ψ (ninth century), and other later Greek manuscripts on through the middle ages. Several Old Latin manuscripts, such as ite and its (sixth century), lack the verse, as do many Vulgate manuscripts, including the earliest copies. The verse is absent in the Syriac Peshitta and in other later Syriac manuscripts, as well as in the entire Coptic tradition. The Armenian and Georgian manuscripts likewise do not contain it, and it is lacking in some Ethiopic copies.

Evaluating the Evidence

The earliest copies of not just one stream but, in fact, nearly every stream of transmission all lack the sentence we have today come to call verse 29. The earliest copies without the verse are at least four hundred years earlier than the first manuscripts to include the verse. Absolutely everything here points to the idea that this verse was not original and was added in at a later date, probably as a clarifying note. Even so, modern translations that do not include the verse in the main body of their text always note the verse in a footnote, so no reader of any Bible translation is left without knowledge of it. Thus, modern translations do not assume pope-like infallibility for themselves, and they always strive to provide the reader with information about their decisions. The reader can look at the data and draw their own conclusion. There is no argument here against modern translations of the Bible.