Lower Criticism examines the manuscripts from a textual perspective.

Textual Criticism determines which manuscript copies are the earliest in dating and identifies how the copies are related to each other. In addition, it looks at the grammatico-historical (lexical) meaning of a particular term during a period or how accurate a particular scribe or scribal colony has been. Manuscripts are also studied for inaccuracies introduced by the scribes themselves, which are either a) involuntary or b) intentional. Here are some examples:


1. Writing a letter, syllable, or word only once when it should have been doubled. An English language example is chose vs. choose. (Haplography)

2. Writing a letter, syllable, or word twice when it should have been once. An English language example is stoop vs. stop. (Dittography)

3. Reversing the order of letters or words. An English language example is door vs. odor. (Metathesis)

4. Combining two separate words into one. An English language example is mass acre vs. massacre. (Fusion)

5. Dividing one word into two words. An English language example is canteen vs. can teen. (Fission)

6. Dictation errors where the wrong but similarly sounding word was substituted. An English language example is reed vs. read. (Homophony)

7. Copying errors where similarly appearing but different letters are substituted. An English language example is Iamb (iamb) vs. lamb.

8. Copying errors where a passage was omitted because a passage before or after had the exact ending. (Homoeoteleuton)

9. Accidental omission of words.

10. Memory errors where the wrong passage was unconsciously substituted because of the scribe’s familiarity or memory of it.


1. Bias may be introduced when a scribe selects the version that reflects his doctrine or is viewed as doctrinally more consistent.

2. A word may be added to clarify a passage.

3. Substitution of more current and correct grammar may occur.

4. Marginal notes may be added into the text of subsequent copies.

With a well-known objective catalog of textual errors, do these errors of transmission distort the message God intended for man? Has the Bible become a book of truth and fiction over time?

The answer is no. The transmission errors have been of little impact; the meaning of each doctrinal point has been unaffected.

The findings of Lower Criticism have been remarkable. Consider the significance of this: of all the works of antiquity, only the Bible has the volume of copies from so many different copyists from different and separate eras and yet has so little transmission error.

If the Bible was truly a work of man, why doesn't It have the extensive and serious transmission errors as all the other human works of antiquity share?

©2006 Helpmewithbiblestudy.org. A resource for learning how to read the Bible.