One of the most striking theological features of the Gospel of Luke and its accompanying volume the book of Acts is that they do not portray Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sins.  That seems very strange indeed to people who get their theology from other parts of the New Testament (e.g., Paul, and the other Gospels).  But when read on their own, Luke-Acts have a different understanding of the significance of Jesus death.

And that may be why scribes altered the words Jesus spoke at his last supper in Luke 22 – the textual variant I began discussing yesterday.   I have a very long discussion of the issue in my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture and a much shortened and simplified version in Misquoting Jesus.  Here is what I say in the latter.

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For proto-orthodox Christians, it was important to emphasize that Christ was a real man of flesh and blood because it was precisely the sacrifice of his flesh and the shedding of his blood that brought salvation – not in appearance but in reality.  One textual variant in Luke’s account of Jesus’ passion emphasizes precisely this reality.  It occurs during the account of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples.  In one of our oldest Greek manuscripts, along with several Latin witnesses, we are told the following:

And taking a cup, giving thanks, he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves, for I say to you that I will not drink from the fruit of the vine from now on, until the kingdom of God comes.”  And taking bread, giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body.  But behold, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me at the table” (Luke 22:17-19).

In most of our manuscripts, however…

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