What is the churches stance on scribal errors?

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Sorry if this question offends anyone, I just want/need to know the churches stance on the following matter.

How does the Church view matters such as scribal errors in the Bible? Does it have the view that they exist in the form of numerical errors in the Bible? Or is the view/stance that the Bible is completely and utterly without errors, scribal or otherwise? Thanks


  • The claim to Biblical inerrancy is a fundamentally Protestant idea. Often the distinction is made between Biblical inerrancy and Biblical infallibity. Understanding the latter to be with respect to essential or substantial matters of faith, doctrine, praxis, morality etc., there is certainly no question regarding the Bible's infallibility. It most certainly can be trusted and referred to as an (albeit not the exclusive) authoritative God-inspired source of true doctrine, faith, praxis, and morality.

    The existence of things like scribal errors, or even slight historical discrepencies, are really facts that can't honestly be avoided. The problem is that many believers, being influenced by the weak polemics of atheists, muslims or skeptics in general, or on the other hand being influenced by the flawed apologetics of fundamental Protestants, are too scared to admit any form of error in the Bible, as if it would be to the detriment of their faith.

    The fact of the matter is that the existence of such errors have no relevant implications whatsoever to the reliability, trustworthiness, or divine source of the Bible - they are the result of human agents that God employed to do His service. He did not possess these agents nor stand behind their shoulders dictating everything they should write, word for word. The human agents employed in the transmission of the text (i.e. those responsible for scribal errors) were furthermore not deprived of their free will, or their human fallibility. God simply made sure (and the facts of history prove this) that whatever error or shortcoming He would allow them to fall into, would not be to the detriment of the substantial and essential truth that He sought to be spread throughout the whole world.

    I don't think you'll find a very uniform view regarding matters of textual criticism. There is nothing dogmatic about these matters. As long as one maintains the fundamental and essential truths regarding the fact that the Bible is grounded in the divinely-inspired testimony of the Prophets and the Apostles, and that these divinely-inspired truths have been preserved unadulterated (whether inerrantly or infallibly - though I think the latter jives more with historical evidence and common sense, it's not really a dogmatic issue like I said) by the Church that so received (and produced) it. It must also be acknowledged that whilst it is an authority, it is not the authority.
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