Was a bone of Jesus broken?" /> Was a bone of Jesus broken?" /> Was a bone of Jesus broken?" />

Is the word "broken" part of the inspired text?  Yes.


1 Corinthians 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me...


Recently on social media, when discussing the two basic Greek text types that underlie the translations of our English Bible....this question came up. Is the word "broken" part of the inspired text, or not?

  • The Alexandrian text type excludes the Greek word 
  • The Byzantine (Majority) text type includes it

24 . . . Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ κλώμενον τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.


We contend the word is part of the original inspired text as discussed below. We come to this conclusion by a presupposition that the Majority Text (aka Byzantine) is the true original text of the Greek New Testament.


Why is it even an issue? Some read the following, and find a contradiction if "broken" is included in 1 Corinthians 11:24. 


John 19:33-37 says  "But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.


The contention is that 1 Corinthians 11:24 contradicts John 19 (and Exodus 12). But notice that it does not say that a bone was broken in Corinthians. This whole conversation is likely an example of how SOME variant readings came about in ancient times.


We suggest the following: Someone in ancient days in arid Egypt (the source of this Alexandrian text type that excludes the word) saw the word broken here. He was troubled by a seeming contradiction of the requirement of no bone broken, against here in Corinthians the text saying He was "broken." The copyist made a "correction" and any descendant copies made, from his "corrected" text, would not include the word "broken."


In contrast, The Greek Majority Text (aka Byzantine) includes the word without question. Which is right?


Keep in mind the Byzantine/Majority texts that include "broken" are the text types whose descendant texts come from the same part of the world as Corinth in the west. The arid region of Egypt is the source of the Alexandrian texts. The Corinthian epistle was sent to Corinth, not Alexandria. The descendants we know as Byzantine texts can claim, geographically, to be better representations of the originals. This is not the only reason, but that is a longer discussion outside the scope of this article.


Many of us rejoice in, and use, Darby's translation. It omits "broken" here as he follows Alexandrian text type. He lists out in footnotes the primary witnesses to each side, available in his day. His translation has eclectic principles at work, but often based on his theological preferences. We believe here that he has erred, along with most modern English translations.


There really should be no theological problem by accepting the presence of the word "broken." It is very reasonable that "broken" is a metaphor used of Christ "broken" for us, without even referring to bones. The same verse says a few words earlier that Christ himself "broke" the bread. This is all symbolic of His work on the cross - His body being "broken."


In no sense does this passage say bones were broken. The skin was broken and stabbed, the person was treated by the Romans soldiers thus. If we consider the violence done to the unleavened bread when it is broken in someone's hands it not difficult to metaphorically see the parallel in the physical violence He suffered in His body in the events leading up to, and including the cross.


"Broken" belongs in 1 Corinthians 11:24.


We suggest this is a plausible explanation of what likely happened to the Alexandrian text. Listen to your brethren speak during the Lord's supper and you'll often hear something said like "he was broken" for us.


It never means bones when we say it. 1 Corinthians 11:24 doesn't say bones were broken.