Why does verse 1 differ in some KJV versions?
The issue concerning 70 vs. 72 men in Luke 10.1 has perplexed many over the years. The variant has to do with what biblical scholars refer to as “external evidence,” that is, the manuscripts themselves. During some 14 centuries when the New Testament was transmitted in handwritten copies, numerous changes and accretions came into the text. Of the approximately 5,000 Greek manuscripts of all or part of the New Testament that are known today, no two agree exactly in all particulars. Confronted by a mass of conflicting readings, editors and translators had to decide which variants deserve to be included in the text and which should be relegated to textual notes, footnotes, etc.
In general, earlier manuscripts are more likely to be free from errors that arise from repeated copying.
With regard to the Greek manuscript that was used by the translators who prepared the King James Version translation, which was the basis for almost all translations of the New Testament into modern languages through the 19th century, that manuscript is now known to have been subject to myriad scribal alterations. During the 20th century and since, with the discovery of several New Testament manuscripts much older than any that had previously been available, it is now possible to produce editions of the New Testament that approximate the wording of the original documents.
With regard to Luke 10.1, along with 10.17, and whether the number is 70 or 72, it is acknowledged that the external evidence is almost evenly divided.
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