New Testament

Summary List of Excluded Passages in New Testament

Based on previous articles, there are a number of parts of existing versions of the New Testament that should not be relied on as primary sources for Biblical teachings.

Below is a summary of the books and passages that should likely be excluded as primary sources of Biblical teachings.

If there are teachings which can only be supported by verses in these passages, they should be re-evaluated:

Mark 16:9-20 (Already excluded in Critical Text)
Luke Chapters 1, 2, and 23:39-24:53
John 19:36-21:25

Note: The above is a list of the major passages of Scripture excluded or reconstructed in the UPDV Bible. There are some other verse by verse issues of which most are also applied in modern translations using the Critical Text. These can be read in the text and footnotes of the UPDV Bible.

New Testament

Just the Facts in Luke

Luke Chapters 1 and 2 – There is evidence that the early life of
Christ probably was not in the original gospel account from
which Luke is derived. The Book of Matthew was likewise found
to include similar material of a doubtful origin. Accordingly, it
seemed best to not include these two chapters in the text of
Luke. For additional information, see Joseph P. Tyson, Marcion
and Luke-Acts (Columbia, University of South Caroline Press,
2006), p. 119.

Luke 23:39-24:53 – The tendency of the other Gospel accounts
has been to include endings which are of a doubtful origin.
Based on the style, content of the text, other witnesses, and the
textual variants at the end of Luke, it is likely that some of the
material in Luke is not original. Accordingly, it seemed best to
include in the ending of Luke only the material which is either
directly or indirectly attested to by some other source.

The comparison material was based on the other texts in the New
Testament, including the other Gospel accounts as well as in
Luke up to this point. This ending section of Luke has been
reconstructed accordingly. Also see the note above regarding
Luke Chapters 1 and 2. For further background refer to: Joseph
P. Tyson, Marcion and Luke-Acts (Columbia, University of
South Caroline Press, 2006), p. 119.

New Testament

The Gospel of John Without The Extra Ending

Although known manuscripts contain the passages of John 19:36-21:25, they are likely to be additions by someone other than the original author. Accordingly, this text has not been included in the UPDV Bible.

The reasons for this determination include the following:

1) The wording of John 19:35 seems to be the most natural
ending of the book. Note the similar endings at John 20:30-31
and 21:24-25 which progressively imitate and expand the
ending at John 19:35. This may indicate two additional layers of
expansion in the ending of the text of John.

2) John’s ending at 3 John 1:12 is similar to John 19:35.

3) Several elements of style and vocabulary are not consistent
with the author’s writing in other places.

4) Generally, the content in this section conflicts with, or is not
substantiated by, parallel accounts in the New Testament.

New Testament

Reconstructing the Book of Matthew

The Book of Matthew in the UPDV Bible is a reconstructed text generally based on the use of existing material from Matthew, as well as being supplemented or modified with text from Mark and Luke. The chapters and verses in Matthew have also been renumbered.

It has become apparent that the Book of Matthew has undergone a significant amount of modification since the original. These modifications have generally gone unnoticed because the modifications seem to have happened before the time of currently existing Greek manuscripts.

By most accounts, Matthew was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Although we do not have what are likely to be copies of a direct line to the Hebrew version, there are some indirect witnesses to it. Some of the Church fathers make references to a gospel written in Hebrew. At times, they even indicate where it differs from the Greek version. They also mention different Hebrew versions, different groups using them, and some issues with these groups and texts. This provides us with some important information concerning the original text of Matthew.

Witnesses To A Substantially Different Text

1) We have long been aware of some comments by Epiphanius that he knew of some Hebrew versions that did not contain the first two chapters. He also seems to indicate that some may have at least contained the genealogy section.

2) Somewhat recently, in 1966, Shlomo Pines in “The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source”, describes the contents of a text which reflects the views and traditions of a Jewish Christian community. On page 21 he states that this text, which may have been written down in the fifth century or later, may represent an independent, otherwise quite unknown tradition concerning some events which occurred in the earliest Christian community. Further, he states that this tradition, however distorted it may have been in the course of transmission, could yet conceivably go back in parts to the first period of Christianity.

The section relevant to Matthew is on page 23. After some discussion as to whether the original text includes narratives as well as just ‘sayings’, he goes on to say that the Jewish Christian texts imply that the ‘true’ Hebrew Gospel did not contain an account of the birth and life of Jesus.

3) New witnesses have been found to Matthew 1:16 which include Manuscripts R and O at 17.3ab of the early document, “The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila” (TA), the Old Syriac (Sinaiticus), some Palestinian Syriac, some Greek manuscripts, and Von Soden’s critical text. These texts appear to show that this verse was modified very early to support the concept of a virgin birth of Jesus.

4) Beginning with Matthew 1:18 (old numbering), a very unusual syntax appears for a text which has been translated from Hebrew to Greek. Instead of finding any resemblance to Hebrew style, we find an almost exact match to a narrative from ancient Greek literature.[1] This tends to show that what we have is something introduced later into the text when it was in Greek.

5) An article titled, “Dreams, the Ancient Novels, and the Gospel of Matthew: An Intertextual Study”, provides some interesting background on the dream stories in Matthew:

“No doubt the dream narratives in Matthew lack the flourish and color that we find in the dream reports of the Greek novels. … Yet the formal features of the dream narratives in Matthew correspond to those found in other Greco-Roman literature, including the romance novels. Based simply on the formal features of the dreams in Matthew, it seems evident that an ancient auditor in the Greco-Roman world would bring to Matthew’s dream narratives the same literary expectations and values as the dreams found in the novels.”[2]

“Chariton 2.9.6 offers a particularly interesting parallel to Matt 1:18b-24 (old numbering). Just as Callirhoe comes to a decision about her unborn child by means of a dream, Joseph also comes to a decision about Mary’s unborn child by means of a dream. Because of the dream, Callirhoe does not kill her unborn child but gives birth to the child and makes it a legitimate child of Dionysius. … Thus the dreams in Matthew’s infancy narrative and the Greek novels share similar functions in relation to children and prophecy.” It goes on further to discuss how in Matthew 27:19 (old numbering), the dream terminology of Pilate’s wife “is consistent with that in Matthew’s infancy narrative…”.[3]

This indicates that these portions of Matthew, not only at the beginning, but also at the end, may be the creation of a later writer who was familiar with novels in his culture; rather than being the original work of a Hebrew author.

Patterns of the Modified Text

Although the above factors focus on the first two chapters, the modifications continue throughout Matthew. The first two chapters turn out to be just a symptom of a much more widespread problem. In reviewing Matthew, some patterns emerge when we find material that is not present in John, Mark, or Luke. In general terms, Matthew contains unparalleled materials that tend to:

a) Sensationalize or exaggerate;

b) Support a misunderstood Scripture;

c) Prematurely insert extra prophecies; and

d) Over-emphasize certain phrases and topics.


In many cases, passages were found that were not in their proper context. By presenting the material in a context which was not originally intended when the words were spoken, this was likely to result in misinterpretation. There were also cases of multiple sayings that were placed together even though they happened at different times and in different contexts.


The UPDV has used the existing material in Matthew as a basis for reconstructing a replacement text which:

a) Removes the unattested material;

b) Puts the events in a more chronological order;

c) Places the text in its proper context; and

d) Covers the same general subjects and events.

While the existing material of Matthew was used as much as possible, sometimes it was necessary to use the text from parallel accounts in Mark and Luke. Sometimes different readings from Matthew, Mark, and Luke were combined together in whole or in part. In some cases, the text in Matthew was not included in any form due to the lack of a confirming witness to the reading or context. Slight modification of the narrative material was occasionally required in order to transition the reconstructed text with the surrounding context.


The chapter and verse numbering in Matthew has been changed. Additional reference material related to the reconstruction of Matthew may be obtained below in PDF format. Click next to the document to view it. Or right-click and select save-as to save it to your computer for future access:

Verse-by-verse comparison from the old text of Matthew to the new. See the end of the PDF document for further information about the contents and abbreviations used. (Click Here)

Conversion chart from the old numbering system to the new numbering system. (Click Here)

Guide to the new text showing the general references from which each verse was derived. This is a short and general reference chart. It is not an exhaustive resource to the derivation of each verse. (Click Here)

It is at times necessary to refer to the old method of numbering and/or the new one. In such cases, the old system will be indicated by (old) or (old numbering). The new system will be indicated by (new) or (new numbering). In cases where it is not indicated, the new system is to be assumed by default.


[1] “Scholia recentia in Pindari epinicia”, E. Abel, vol. 1, 7.46-48, Berlin: Calvary, 1891. The text being that in TLG® (Thesaurus Linguae Graecae) by the Regents of the University of California.

[2] “Dreams, the Ancient Novels, and the Gospel of Matthew: An Intertextual Study”, Derek S. Dodson, Perspectives in Religious Studies, pages 46-47, vol. 29, Spring 2002.

[3] “Dreams, the Ancient Novels, and the Gospel of Matthew: An Intertextual Study”, Derek S. Dodson, Perspectives in Religious Studies, page 51, vol. 29, Spring 2002.

New Testament

The Book of Acts Is Fictional And Should Not Be In The Bible

The book of the Acts of the Apostles is not included in the UPDV Bible. It appears that the book of Acts was generally based on historical people and events for its outline; however, many of the details within it appear to be created.

This has significant implications for Bible teaching:

Any teaching of the Bible which depends on Acts as a source needs to be re-evaluated.

The reasons for taking this position include the following: 

1) The internal writing style in the Gospel of Luke is different in some respects when compared to Acts. This tends to indicate that someone else wrote Acts. For example, note the use of the Greek word τε (9 times in Luke; 151 times in Acts). Also compare the difference in use of ανηρ (27 times in Luke; 100 times in Acts) to ανθρωπος (95 times in Luke, 46 times in Acts). See the following article for other examples: A.W. Argyle, “The Greek of Luke and Acts,” New Testament Studies (Cambridge University Press) 20 (1974): pp. 441 – 445. 

2) Contradictions to other events in the New Testament. For example compare Galatians 1:11-2:10 to the corresponding events in Acts. 

3) Significant amounts of material which are unsubstantiated. Many of the details found in Acts are not present in Paul’s writings even when they would be expected. For example, compare the details of Paul’s conversion and persecution of the Church in Galatians 1:13-24 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-9 to those found in Acts. 

4) Similarities of some parts of Acts with Greco-Roman literature. This may indicate some of the material in Acts was created based on stories in the literature of the time. For examples of this see: Ruben Rene Dupertuis. “The Summaries in Acts 2, 4, and 5 and Greek Utopian Literary Traditions.” PhD diss., Claremont Graduate University, 2005. 

New Testament

The Speech In John 1:1 – Finding Jesus Christ In The Old Testament

In the beginning was the Speech,

and the Speech was with God,

and the Speech was God.

The UPDV Updated Bible Version translates ‘the Word’ in John 1:1 as ‘the Speech’.[1] The reason for this is to restore the original meaning of what has generally been translated as ‘the Word’.

By translating as Speech, we can more easily find Jesus Christ referenced in numerous places in the Old Testament.

We are able to better understand the meaning of ‘Speech’ in John 1:1 by reviewing the use of Speech (known literally as ‘Memra’) in the Old Testament. It is this very usage that John likely had in mind when he wrote his Gospel. Since Jesus Christ is referred to in John 1:1 as the Speech, it is critical that this link to the Old Testament references of this be retained.

Finding Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

Underlining is used throughout the UPDV Bible where Speech (‘Memra’) is used in order to show the possible relationship to Jesus Christ in John 1:1. To show where Speech (‘Memra’) is used in the Old Testament, the corresponding English translation in the UPDV Bible has been underlined. This is true even when it is not translated as Speech.

For example, in Genesis 1:3, the Targum reads, ‘And the Memra of the Lord said’. Our present version reads, ‘And God said’. Accordingly, ‘God’ in Genesis 1:3 in this translation has been underlined. This shows the corresponding use of ‘Memra’ in the Targum.

In other words, Genesis 1:3 could refer to Jesus Christ. It shows a possible relationship between ‘God’ of Genesis 1:3 to the ‘Speech’ of John 1:1. The ‘Speech’ of John 1:1 is also underlined since it is likely to have been originally derived from ‘Memra’ in the Targum.

If the word ‘I’ is underlined, the verb next to it will also be underlined to make it easier to notice.

In Genesis 1:3, 7, 9, 11, 15, 24, and 30, the last phrase of the verse is underlined to show the additional phrase ‘according to the decree of his Memra’ or ‘according to his Memra’ which appears at the end of the verse in the Targum. In Genesis 1:3 the Targum reads, ‘and there was light according to the decree of his Memra’. The rest of the verses listed above read in the Targum, ‘and it was so according to his Memra.’

The following are the instances where underlining has taken place to show an underlying use of ‘Memra’ in the Old Testament as well as the possible use of the same word in New Testament (parenthesis indicate the number of times ‘Memra’ appears in a verse if more than once):


1:1 (3 times), 1:14.


1:3(2),4,5,6,7,8,9(2),10,11(2),15,16,20,22,24(2),25,27,28,30; 2:2; 3:8,10; 4:26; 8:20; 9:12,13,15,16,17; 12:7(2),8(2); 13:4,14,18; 14:19,22; 15:1,6; 16:13; 17:1,3,7,8,11; 18:1,17,19; 19:24; 20:3,6,13; 21:33; 22:16,18; 24:1,3; 26:3,5,25; 28:15(2); 29:31; 30:22; 31:3,5; 35:1; 46:4; 49:25.


3:4,8,12(2),17; 4:12,15; 5:23; 6:3,7; 8:22; 10:10; 11:4; 12:12,23; 13:21; 14:30,31; 15:2,25,26; 17:1,6; 18:4; 19:5,9,20; 20:24; 23:22; 25:22; 29:43,45; 30:6,36; 31:17; 32:13; 34:5.


8:35; 9:4; 16:2; 18:30; 20:23; 22:9; 24:12; 26:11,12,30,46.


3:16,39,51; 4:37,41,45,49; 9:18(2),19,20(2),23(4); 10:13,29; 11:17,20,21; 13:3; 14:9,11,14,22,41; 17:4; 20:12,24; 21:5; 22:9,12,18,20; 23:3,4,16,21; 24:4,13,16; 27:14; 33:2,38; 36:5.


1:26,32,43; 2:7; 4:30,33,36; 5:5,23; 8:20; 9:23(2); 13:4,18; 15:5; 18:19; 20:1; 26:14,17; 27:10; 28:1,2,15,45,62; 30:2,8,10,20; 31:8,23; 32:51; 34:5.


2:12; 5:11(2); 7:1,8; 9:2,7,9,10; 11:1; 14:5; 16:1; 21:7; 22:4,5; 23:4; 25:2,3,20; 26:1; 27:1,10; 28:6,7; 31:1,6,14,24; 32:11; 33:21; 34:2,8,22; 35:9; 37:3,5,9,22,34,40; 40:3,16; 41:3; 52:7; 55:16; 56:4,10(2),11; 57:1; 62:8; 63:4,6,11; 64:10; 66:6; 68:11,16,33; 70:4; 71:1,6; 81:8,11; 84:5,12; 85:6,12; 89:24; 91:2,14; 95:7; 97:12; 104:34; 106:23,25; 107:25; 110:1,2; 112:7; 114:3; 115:9,10,11,12,14; 116:7; 118:26; 121:7; 124:2,8; 125:1; 135:14; 141:8; 143:8,9; 144:2.


1:20; 5:24; 6:8; 8:5,14; 9:7; 10:17,20; 12:2; 17:7; 21:17; 22:25; 25:8,9; 26:3,4; 28:23; 29:19(2); 30:11; 31:1; 32:9; 33:2; 37:32,35; 40:5; 41:10,13,14,16; 43:5; 44:24; 45:12,17,22,24,25; 46:3,12; 48:3,12,16; 49:1,5; 51:1,4,5,7; 55:2,3; 57:13; 58:14; 59:17; 60:9; 61:10; 62:2; 63:8; 66:6; 66:13.

‘Memra’ has only been noted in Genesis through Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah in the Old Testament of the UPDV Bible. ‘Memra’ is present elsewhere in the Targums. However, the reason for its use in these other places often seems to be for other purposes such as avoiding the use of God’s name directly in negative contexts. However, the primary reason for indicating ‘Memra’ in this Bible is to show the possible background to John 1:1. Accordingly, ‘Memra’ is only noted in the books where it is reasonably associated with John’s use.

Various Targums were consulted for the purpose of determining the use of ‘Memra’. Only some of the instances of ‘Memra’ were included. Deciding which ones to include depended on factors such as: which Targums contained the reading, patterns of use, and the context.

In the Targum, the underlying phrase is often ‘the Memra of the Lord’ or similar which is substituted for God. If there is a phrase such as ‘the name of the Memra of the Lord, the Everlasting God’ (or similar), it has not been determined if the part after the comma (the Everlasting God) refers back to either ‘Memra’ or ‘Lord’ or both.

In some cases, there is not an exact one to one correspondence in the Hebrew Old Testament for ‘Memra’ in the Targum. In such cases, if a similar underlying word or phrase could be determined, it was underlined; otherwise, no underlining was done.

For further background on the use of ‘Memra’, see: ‘The Idea of Intermediation in Jewish Theology. A Note on Memra and Shekinah. G. H. Box. The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol 23, No. 2 (Oct. 1932), pages 103-119’. Also see: ‘The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John. Daniel Boyarin. Harvard Theological Review 94:3 (2001), pages 243-284’.

Technical Background

The translation of ‘Word’ or ‘Speech’ in John 1:1 is based on an Aramaic word (מלתא) which is broader than the meaning of ‘Word’. Although it can mean either ‘Word’ or ‘Speech’, here ‘Speech’ is more accurate.

The Difference in the Dictionary

The translation of ‘Speech’ instead of ‘Word’ is significant in meaning. Compare these definitions in Webster’s Dictionary[2] (emphasis added):


The expression of ideas and thoughts by means of articulate vocal sounds, or the faculty of thus expressing ideas and thoughts.


A unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

Note the phrase in the definition above for ‘speech’: the faculty of thus expressing ideas and thoughts. So, on reflection, ‘the Word’ actually limits the meaning of John 1:1. Certainly, ‘Word’ is a way or element of expressing oneself, but ‘Speech’ goes beyond that. And by using ‘Speech’, it can still mean ‘Word’ and much more.

The Pulpit Commentary

The Pulpit Commentary, a relatively well known and widely used commentary, also discusses these different meanings:

The New Testament writers never use the term Λογος[3] to denote reason, or thought, or self-consciousness, but always denote by it speech, utterance, or wordthe forthcoming, the clothing of thought, the manifestation of reason or purpose, but neither the thought, nor the reason, nor the purpose itself.[4]

Note the three general meanings: ‘speech’, ‘utterance’, or ‘word’.

Writings of Aphrahat in the Fourth Century

There are also some early writings that discuss this subject. One example is a quotation from Aphrahat who was a fourth century Christian writer. Although he wrote in the fourth century, his writings were not recently published until 1869.[5] His writings are important as they are written in Syriac, a type of Aramaic, which is similar to how the book of John was likely written originally. Below is an excerpt from a book[6] which discusses Aphrahat’s writings. In particular, an early discussion surfaces about the different meanings attached to John 1:1:

From this discussion, it can be seen how ‘Word’ became a later interpretation of the other earlier meanings which included ‘Speech’.

Writings of Ephrem in the Fourth Century

In the last sentence of the excerpt in the book above about Aphrahat, another writer was introduced by the name of Ephrem. He was the one who rejected the meaning of ‘the Voice’. Ephrem was an early Syriac writer who lived at about the same time as Aphrahat in the fourth century. The importance of these two writers is that they were some of the closest sources that we have who would have understood the meaning of the original Aramaic in John 1:1. The Syriac version of Ephrem’s commentary which contained this verse was identified in 1957 and published in 1963.[7] Ephrem wrote the following about this verse (emphasis added):

Do not understand it as an ordinary word, or reduce it to a voice. For it was not a voice that was in the beginning, since, before it sounded, [a voice] does not exist, and after it is sounded it does not exist. Therefore it was not a voice which was the likeness of his Father, nor was it the Father’s voice, but his image.[8]

Old Testament Background

It is also possible that the underlying word in Aramaic in John 1:1 was originally ‘Memra’ (ממרא). This would match the extensive use in some of the Targums (Aramaic translations of the Old Testament). The significance of this is that John may have used his understanding of this term from the Targum when he wrote in John 1:1, ‘In the beginning was the Speech…’.

In reference to the use of ‘Memra’ in the Targums, J.W. Etheridge states:

 … it seems, I repeat, impossible to restrict the signification of the epithet in question to a mere figurative personification, and not to perceive that St. John, when he wrote the first verses of his Gospel, communicated to the Gentile churches a mystery of the truth which had long been held sacred by the ancient people of God.[9]

Holding a similar view is Martin McNamara who says:

 …it is legitimate to assume that John is very much under the influence of the targums in the formulation of his doctrine of the Logos.[10]

In understanding John 1:1, it is also important to differentiate between the meaning of the ‘Logos’ of Greek Philosophy and the ‘Memra’ of the Old Testament. John Gill in his ‘Exposition of the Entire Bible’ at John 1:1 indicates that the meaning of John 1:1 is based on the meaning of ‘Memra’ from the Targums rather than from the writings of Plato or his followers. Gill further states that it is much more probable that Plato got his idea of the ‘Logos’ from the ‘Memra’ of the Old Testament, rather than supposing that John’s ideas in John 1:1 were derived from Plato.


Today, with the support of these early writings some of which recently became available, the translation of John 1:1 can be determined more accurately.[11] Aphrahat established a range of meanings which includes ‘word’, ‘voice’, and ‘speech’. But Ephrem rejects the ordinary meaning of both ‘word’ and ‘voice’ as too narrow. However, ‘speech’ is the broadest and brings out the best meaning. While voice and word can be part of speech, speech is much more.


[1] This change started with version 2.06 released April 2, 2005. The previous UPDV Version 2.05 read: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

[2] Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 1999 Random House, Inc.

[3] ‘Λoγος’ is the Greek word ‘logos’ for what is being referred to as ‘Word’ or ‘Speech’:

[4] The Pulpit Commentary: St. John Vol. I, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004.

[5] W. Wright, The Homilies of Aphraates, the Persian Sage, edited from Syriac Manuscripts of the fifth and sixth Century in the British Museum, London, 1869.

[6] T. Baarda, The Gospel Quotations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage, Amsterdam, 1975. Page 58.

[7] L. Leloir, Commentaire de l’evangile concordant. Texte syriaque (MS Chester Beatty 709). Chester Beatty Monograph Series 8, Dublin, 1963.

[8] Carmel McCarthy, Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 1993, 2000. Page 41.

[9] J.W. Etheridge, M.A. The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch with the Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum from the Chaldee. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. New York, 1968, first published 1862, pages 19-20.

[10] Martin McNamara, Targum and Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, page 104.

[11] 50-150 years is relatively recent in the transmission of the New Testament.