Human Error or Divine Incompetence?

by Ibn Anwar

Can you imagine a book that claims to convey factual information and data making a terrible factual error in its first paragraph? Let's say we have a book called "101 Facts on Animals" and in the first supposed fact it makes an UNFACTUAL claim. Would you be taking that book seriously anymore or will you consider chucking it in the bin and find other books instead? This is the predicament that Christians face when the claim is made that the Gospel according to Mark is divinely inspired or "god-breathed". At the very beginning of the book and in the first chapter of Mark we have a truly irreconcilable textual error.

In the beginning was an error...

"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way;" (Mark 1:2)

I challenge every Christian in the world to show me where I can find in Isaiah the verse "Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way". Believe me when I say that not even the Pope can help you here. That is because the verse does not exist  in Isaiah, although you can actually find it in the Old Testament. To be more specific it is in the Torah. To be even more specific it is in Exodus! The words are different but the meaning is basically the same.

"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared." (Exodus 23:20)

How far apart exactly is Exodus from Isaiah? The answer to that is about 1000 years! How could such a mistake happened if God was guiding the hand of the anonymous author of Mark? Did God forget that it was His prophet Moses and not Isaiah who mentioned the verse? God forbid! It is more reasonable to contend that the reason for the unequivocal error is because Mark was written by anonymous individual who was not guided by God. The text is a clear corruption that should not be attributed to the divine.

Some might try to argue that the verse actually reads, "in the Prophets" as opposed to "in Isaiah" as found in the King James Version. No doubt that the KJV based on manuscripts containing such a reading does say that. But that reading is only to be found in the majority of rather late manuscripts e.g. A, E, F, G, H, P, W, S, family 13, the majority of minuscules, Syriac Harclean of the Byzantine version and others. The earliest witness for the reading "in the Prophets" dates only to the fourth century. On the other hand the reading for "in Isaiah" as retained in most Bibles today are based on the most ancient witnesses(manuscripts) such as in Aleph, B, L, D, Q, family 1, 33, 205, 565, 700, 892, 1071, 1241, 1243, 2427, Itala MSS (a, aur, b, c, d, f , ff2, l, q, Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Syriac Palestinian, Coptic and so on.  The reading is widespread and is found in almost all the Alexandrian, Caesarean and Western witnesses. Thus the reading "in Isaiah" is closer to the original.  Even if for the sake of argument we were to entertain the veracity of the KJV reading "in the Prophets" the textual predicament still remains. Exodus was not by Prophets but by a Prophet i.e. Moses. The Old Testament according to Jewish tradition is divided into three categories namely, Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim. Nevi'im means Prophets referring to the books attributed to Prophets. If the reading "in the Prophets" were to be true then it would be referring to the category of Nevi'im which does not include the Torah wherein Exodus is found. Whichever position one takes Mark 1:2 remains nothing more than a corruption! Mark 1:2 is yet another falsehood in "the book of God".