I made an editing mistake last week and published an article that cited a Bible passage, but I did not verify the passage. A sharp-eyed reader asked about the citation, saying that they looked up the passage and it did not match the text that was in the article. It turns out the citation was a couple of chapters off—Isaiah 41 instead of Isaiah 43—probably just a typo. I admitted the error and commended the reader for caring about accuracy in Scripture. Since the article was online, I could correct the error on the website.
Accuracy matters in all editing. When we cite Scripture, we have an obligation to accurately use God’s Word, and I was frustrated that I had made this error. My mistake reminded me that when I am editing, I need to verify each Scripture reference that is cited.
There are two types of errors that often occur with Bible references.
First, there are very familiar passages of Scripture that people might cite without checking the exact wording. When I am verifying these as an editor, I find that occasionally people mix up the wording and might insert or omit a few words from a passage. This kind of error is easily corrected. I adjust the text to match the exact words of Scripture.
The second type of error, where a citation is just wrong, is a little harder to correct. As the editor, I have to search out the words that are cited and find the correct passage. If the citation is too far off, I might send it back to the writer to make sure of their intent.
For both of these verifications, I use Biblegateway.com as a source. It includes many translations and paraphrases and has good search tools.
In addition to verifying specific biblical citations, an editor should confirm the version of the Bible that is used in an article. Some organizations use one version as their default, and then allow different versions at times. In that case they might only list the version when it is an exception to their usual version. Others choose to list the version for each Bible citation.
If a writer is frequently switching from one Bible translation to another, I might question them as to why they are jumping around. They may have a good reason for wanting to include different translations; however, if they are switching so they can make a point with a particular word, I might challenge their line of reasoning.
Accuracy matters, especially when we are including God’s Word in our content!
by Carla Foote, Fine Print Editorial
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash