My apologies for the time since I last continued the examination of Saifullah & Azmy’s article on the transmission of the text of the New Testament, and in particular, at this point, seventeen articles in, their lengthy citation of Bentley’s Secrets of Mount Sinai regarding Codex Sinaiticus (a). Life, at times, is so very distracting!
Once again we encounter a section of the citation of Bentley that, while useful for the creation of a false impression, is hardly relevant to truth nor compelling to those who know it. Here is the next portion that is cited:
As if this were not enough to shock those schooled on older versions of the gospels, Codex Sinaiticus even minimizes some of the punishments in store for the wicked, according to the traditional texts. St Mark’s Gospel, chapter 9, for instance, describes hell as a place ‘where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched’ (a description taken from the last verse of the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah). Codex Sinaiticus omits the words.
Now, Bentley may be a better writer than most textual critics (who can’t seem to come up with a title for their books more creative than New Testament Textual Criticism) but comments like this explain why it is textual critics who should write on the subject of textual criticism. Here is what a contains at Mark 9:48: “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” So, we see that Sinaiticus contains the very words that Bentley says it does not. So why did he write what he did? Because of the fact that the same phrase is repeated in the Majority Text at Mark 9:44 and 9:46, but is not found in those places by such sources as a, B, C, L, W, D Y f1 and other early translations of the text into Latin, Syriac, and Coptic. Ironically, the sentence in question comes from the very end of the book of Isaiah, 66:24, and since Sinaiticus contains the Greek Old Testament, yes, the sentence exists even there (meaning it actually appears in a twice). It seems that we have here a scribal expansion based upon attaching this fearful description to the term hell (another variant, found in verse 45, repeats the description “into the unquenchable fire” from v. 43). One can see, from the flow of the text, why a scribe would be tempted to repeat or expand the phrases that come at the end of 43, 45, and 47 due to their parallelism. In any case, Bentley’s statement is simply untrue, and is an excellent example of the same kind of exaggerated assertion that fills the many volumes of King James Only writings even to this day.